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VOL. 5-KO. 2 

Spring-Summer, 1932' ‘ 



Amazing Stories 

Quarterly 




CONTENTS 

Invaders from the Infinite 

By John M\ Campbell, Jr, 

Illustrations by WESSO 

The Ant with a Human Soul 

By Bob Olsen 

Illustrations by MOREY 

Water -Bound World 

By Harl Vincent 

Illustration by MOREY 

Antipodal (A Poem) 

By Clio Harper 

The Hole That Grew 

By E. D. Johnson 



Illustration by MOREY 




Your Viewpoint 



Our Cover 

this issue, depicts a scene front the story entitled, 
“Water-Bound World,” by Harl Vincent, in 
which Ridge Goler is shown with the un- 

k conscious girl draped over his right arm , 
and the ilame projector clutched A 
tightly in his free left hand, moving A 








'w£' 









quickly up to higher levels in an 
effort to escape Bzor and his 
frog-men agents. 



Cover Illustration by MOREY 






n _ •! nn 





Published Monthly by Teck Publishing Corporation, Washington and South Avenues, Dunellen, N. J 

EDITORIAL AND EXECUTIVE OFFICES 
3S0 HOb^ON street, new YORK city, N. Y. SOo a Copy, $2.00 a 



OFFfCERS 

Lee Ellmaker, President 
Warren P. Jeffery, Vice President 
Huston D. Crippen, Vice President 
W’^illiam Thompson, Treasu^if 
Wesley F. Pape. SecretaiM 



Entered as second class matter ,at the Post Office at Dunellen. 
N. J., imtler the act of March 3, 1879. Copyright, 1932, by 
Teck Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. Title Reg- 
istered at the U. S. Patent Office. Printed in the United States of 
America. The contents of this magazine must not be reproduced 
without permission. We cannot be responsible for lost manu» 
scripts, although every care is taken for their safety. 



50c a Copy, $2.00 a year, 
$3.00 in Canada, and $2.50 
in Foreign Countries. Sub- 
scribers are notified that 
change of address must reach 
us five weeks in advance of 
the next date of issut. 



nvaders 

from the Infinite 

By John W. Campbell, Jr. 

Author of “Solarite,” “The Black Star Passes/' etc. 



^^NCE more our famous trio of scientists, Arcot, Wade and Morey, are off in 
L/ interplanetary space — this time with improvements for such travel even 
beyond their previous hopes. And it is while they are within their own universe 
that a warning and a plea for help against inimical enemies comes to them from 
inhabitants of far-away strange worlds. There is plenty of science, adventure, 
thrill and excitement in this last novel-length interplanetary story by one of our 
masters of scientific fiction. It is provocative of thought and is thoroughly enter- 
taining. 



Illustrated by WESSO 



CHAPTER I 
Invaders 

R USS EVANS, Pilot 3497, Rocket Squad Patrol 
34, unsnapped the belt that had held him to 
his seat in the weightless ship, and with a 
„ slight push floated up into the air of the 
room. He stretched himself, and yawned 

broadly. 

“Red, how soon do we eat?” he called. 

“Shut up, you’ll wake the other fellows, you nut. 
It’s hard enough getting to sleep without being waked 
up,” replied a low voice from the rear of the little, 
swift patrol ship. “See anything?” 

“Yes, several million stars,” replied Evans in a lower 
voice, rather disgustedly. “And,” his tone becoming 
suddenly severe, “Assistant Murphy, remember your 
manners when talking to your superior ofBcer. I’ve a 
mind to report you.” 

A flaming head of hair topping a grinning face poked 
around the edge of the door. “Lower your wavelength, 
lower your wavelength ! You may think you’re a sun, 
but you’re just a planetoid. But what I’d like to know. 
Chief Pilot, Russ Evans, is why they locate a ship in 
a forlorn, out of the way place like this. Three-quarters 
of a billion miles out of the planetary plane. No ships 
ever come out here, no pirates, not a chance to help a 
wrecked ship. All we can do is sit here and watch the 
other fellows do the work.” 

“Which is exactly why we’re here. Watch — and tell 



the other ships where to go, and when. Is that chow 
ready?” asked Russ looking at a small clock giving 
New York time. 

“Uh — think she’ll be on time? Come on an’ eat.” 

Evans took one more look at the telectroscope screen, 
then snapped it off. A tiny, molecular motion, towing 
unit in his hand, he pointed toward the door to the 
combined galley and lunch room, and glided in the wake 
of Murphy. 

“How much fuel left?” he asked, as he glided into 
the dizzily spinning room. A cylindrical room, spinning 
at high speed, causing an artificial “weight” for the 
foods and materials in it, made eating of food a less 
difficult task. Expertly, he maneuvered himself to the 
guide rail near the center of the room, and caught the 
spiral. Braking himself into motion, he soon glided 
down its length, and landed on his feet. He bent and 
flexed his muscles, waiting for the now-busied assistant 
to get to the floor and reply. 

“They gave us two pounds extra. Lord only knows 
why. Must expect us to clean up on some fleet. That 
makes four pound rolls left, untouched, and two thirds 
of the original pound. We’ve been here fifteen days, 
and have six more to go. The main driving power rolls 
have about the same amount left, and three pound rolls 
in each reserve bin,” replied Red, holding a curiously 
moving coffee pot that strove to adjust itself to rapidly 
changing air velocities as it neared the center of the 
room. 

“Sounds like a fleet’s power stock. Martian lead or 
the terrestrial isotope?” asked Evans, tasting warily a 



146 




148 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



peculiar dish before him. “Say, this is energy food. 
I thought we didn’t get any more till Saturday.” The 
change from the energy-less, flavored pastes that made 
up the principal bulk of a space-pilot’s diet, to prevent 
over-eating, when no energy was used in walking in the 
weightless ship, was indeed a welcome change. 

“Uh-hu. I got hungry. Any objections?” grinned 
the Irishman. 

“None!” replied Evans fervently, pitching in with 
a will. 

S EATED at the controls once more, he snapped the 
little switch that caused the screen to glow with 
flashing, swirling colors as the teletroscope apparatus 
came to life. A thousand tiny points of flame appeared 
scattered on a black field with a suddenness that made 
them seem to snap suddenly into being. Points, tiny 
dimensionless points of light, save one, a tiny disc of 
blue-white flame, old Sol from a distance of close to 
one billion miles, and under slight reverse magnifica- 
tion. The skilful hands at the controls were turning 
adjustments now, and that disc of flame seemed to leap 
toward him with a hundred light-speeds, growing to a 
disc as large as a dime in an instant, while the myriad 
points of the stars seemed to scatter like frightened 
chickens, fleeing from the growing sun, out of the 
screen. Other points, heretofore invisible, appeared, 
grew, and rushed away. 

The sun shifted from the center of the screen, and 
a smaller reddish-green disc came into view — a planet, 
its atmosphere coloring the light that left it toward 
the red. It rushed nearer, grew larger. Earth spread 
as it took the center of the screen. A world, a portion 
of a world, a continent, a fragment of a continent as 
the magnification increased, boundlessly it seemed. 

Finally, New York spread across the screen; New 
York seen from the air, with a strange lack of perspec- 
tive. The buildings did not seem all to slant toward 
some point, but to stand vertical, for, from a distance 
of a billion miles, the vision lines were practically 
parallel. Titanic shafts of glowing color in the early 
summer sun appeared; the hot rays from the sun, now 
only 82,500,000 miles away, shimihering on the colored 
metal walls. 

The new Airlines Building, a mile and a half high, 
supported at various points by actual space-ship driving 
units, was a riot of shifting, rainbow hues. A new 
trick in construction had been used here, and Evans 
smiled at it. Arcot, inventor of the ship that carried 
him, had suggested it to Fuller, designer of that ship, 
and of that building. The colored berylium metal of 
the wall had been ruled with 20,000 lines to the inch, 
mere scratches, but nevertheless a diffraction grating. 
The result was amazingly beautiful. The sunlight, split 
up to its rainbow colors, was reflected in millions of 
shifting tints. 

In the air, supported by tiny packs strapped to their 
backs, thousands of people were moving, floating where 
they wished, in any direction, at any elevation. There 
were none of the helicopters of even five years ago, 
now. A molecular power suit was far more con- 
venient, cost nothing to operate, and but $50 to buy. 
Perfectly safe, requiring no skill, every one owned them. 
To the watcher in space, they were mere moving, snaky 
lines of barely distinguishable dots that shivered and 
seemed to writhe in the refractions of the air. Passing 
over them, seeming to pass almost through them in this 
strange perspectiveless view from infinite altitude, were 
the shadowy forms of giant space liners, titanic stream- 
lined hulls. They were streamlined for no good reason, 
save that they looked faster and more graceful than 
the more efficient spherical freighters, just as passen- 
ger liners of two centuries earlier, with their steam 



engines, had carried four funnels and used two. Four 
made it appear more powerful. A space liner spent so 
minute a portion of its journey in the atmosphere that 
it was really inefficient to streamline them. 

“Won’t be long!” muttered Russ, grinning cheerily 
at the familiar, sunlight city. His eyes darted to the 
chronometer beside him. The view seemed to be taken 
from a ship that was suddenly scudding across the 
heavens like a frightened thing, as it ran across from 
Manhattan Island, followed the Hudson for a short way, 
then cut across into New Jersey, swinging over the 
great woodland area of Kittatiny Park, resting finally 
on the New Jersey suburb of New York nestled in the 
Kittatinies, Blairtown. Low apartment buildings, ten 
or twelve stories high, nestled in the waving green of 
trees in the old roadways. When ground traffic ceased, 
the streets had been torn up, and parkways substi- 
tuted. 

Quickly the view singled out a single apartment, and 
the great smooth roof was enlarged on the screen to 
the absolute maximum clarity, till further magnifica- 
tion simply resulted in worse stratospheric distortion. 
On the broad roof were white strips of some material, 
making a huge V followed by two Ps. Russ watched, 
his hand on the control steadying the view under the 
Earth’s complicated orbital motion, and rotation, fur- 
ther corrections for the ship’s orbital motion making 
the job one requiring great skill. The view held the 
center with amazing clarity. Something seemed to be 
happening to the last of the Ps. It crumpled suddenly, 
rolled in on itself and disappeared. 

“She’s there, and on time,” grinned Russ happily. 

He tried more magnification. Could he . 

He was tired, terribly, suddenly tired. He took his 
hands from the viewplate controls, relaxed, and dropped 
off to sleep. 

“What made me so tired — wonder — GOD!” He 
straightened with a jerk, and his hands flew to the 
controls. “Red!” he shouted. The view on the ma- 
chine suddenly retreated, flew back with a velocity 
inconceivable. Earth dropped away from the ship with 
an apparent velocity a thousand times that of light; it 
was a tiny ball, a pinpoint, gone, the sun — a minute disc 
— gone — ^then the apparatus was flashing views into 
focus from the other side of the ship. The assistant 
did not reply. Evans’ hands were growing ineffably 
heavy, his whole body yearned for sleep. Slowly, 
clumsily he pawed for a little stud. Somehow his hand 
found it, and the ship reeled suddenly, little jerks, as 
the code message was flung out in a beam of such tre- 
mendous power that the sheer radiation pressure made 
it noticeable. Earth would be notified. The system 
would be warned. But light, slow crawling thing, 
would take hours to cross the gulf of space, and radio 
travels no faster. 

Half conscious, fighting for his faculties with all his 
will, the pilot turned to the screen. A ship ! A strange, 
glistening thing streamlined to the nth degree, every 
spare corner rounded till the resistance was at the 
irreducible minimum. But, in the great pilot-port of 
the stranger, the patrol pilot saw faces, and gasped 
in surprise as he saw them! Terrible faces, blotched, 
contorted. Patches of white skin, patches of brown, 
patches of black, blotched and twisted across the faces. 
Long, lean faces, great wide flat foreheads above, skulls 
strangely squared, more box-like than man’s rounded 
skull. The ears were large, pointed tips at the top. 
Their hair was a silky mane that extended low over 
the forehead, and ran back, spreading above the ears, 
and down the neck. 

Then, as that emotion of surprise and astonishment 
weakened his will for the moment, oblivion came, >vith 
what seemed a fleeting instant of memories. His life 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 149 



seemed to flash before his mind in serried rank, a file 
of events, his childhood, his life, his marriage, his 
wife, an image of smiling comfort, then the years, 
images of great and near great men, his knowledge of 
history, pictures of the great war of 2074, pictures of 
the attackers of the Black Star — then calm oblivion, 
quiet blankness. 

The long, silent ship that had hovered near him 
turned, and pointed toward the pinhead of matter that 
glowed brilliantly in the flaming jewel box of the 
heavens. It was gone in an instant, rushing toward 
Sun and Earth at a speed that outraced the flying radio 
message, leaving the ship of the Guard Patrol behind, 
and leaving the Pilot as he leaves our story. 

CHAPTER II 
Canine People 

“ yiND that,” said Arcot between puffs, “will certainly 
be a great boon to the Rocket Patrol, you must 
admit. They don’t like dueling with these 
space-pirates using the molecular rays, and since 
molecular rays have such a tremendous commercial 
value. We can’t prohibit the sale of ray apparatus. Now, 
if you will come into the ‘workshop,’ Fuller, I’ll give a 
demonstration with friend Morey’s help.” 

The four friends rose, Morey, Wade and Fuller fol- 
lowing Arcot into his laboratory on the thirty-seventh 
floor of the Arcot Research Building. As they went, 
Arcot explained to Fuller the results and principles of 
the latest product of the ingenuity of the “Trium- 
virate,” as Arcot, Morey and Wade had come to be 
called in the news dispatches. 

“As you know, the molecular rays are rays of a 
frequency between the shortest radio and the longest, 
so called heat ray or infra-reds. Their range is narrow, 
and they must be used and mixed correctly to have the 
desired effect; making all the molecules of any piece 
of matter they are turned upon move in the desired 
direction. Since they supply no new energy, but make 
the body they are turned upon supply its ovm, or better, 
use the energy of its own random molecular motion of 
heat, it was practically impossible to step it. The energy 
necessary for molecular rays to take effect is so small 
that the usual type of filter lets enough of it pass, and 
the attacked ship was no better off than before; the 
rays simply drove the front end into the rear, or vice 
versa, or tore it to pieces as the pirates desired. The 
Rocket Patrol could kill off the pirates, but they lost 
so many men in the process, it was a Phyrric victory. 

“For some time Morey and I have been working on 
something to stop the rays. Obviously it can’t be by 
means of any of the usual metallic energy absorption 
screens. 

“We finally found a combination of rays, better fre- 
quencies, that did what we wanted. I have such an ap- 
paratus here. What we want you to do, of course, is 
the usual job of re-arranging the stuff so that the 
apparatus can be made from dies, and put into quantity 
production. As the Official Designer for the A.A.L. you 
ought to do that easily.” Arcot grinned as Fuller 
looked in amazement at the apparatus Arcot had picked 
up from the bench in the “workshop.” 

“Don’t get worried,” laughed Morey, “that’s got a 
lifting unit combined — just a plain ordinary molecular 
lift such as you see by the hundreds out there.” Morey 
pointed through the great window where thousands of 
those lift units were carrying men, women and children 
through the air, lifting them hundreds, thousands of 
feet above the streets and through the doors of build- 
ings. 

“Here’s an ordinary molecular pistol; you’ve used 



them before. Try this one if you want to, and then use 
it when I say ready. I’m going to put the suit on, and 
rise about five feet off the floor. You can turn the 
pistol on me, and see what impression it makes on the 
suit.” 

Fuller took the molecular ray pistol, while Wade 
helped Arcot into the suit. He looked at the pistol 
dubiously, pointed it at a heavy casting of iron resting 
in one corner of the room, and turned the ray at low 
concentration, then pressed the trigger-button. The 
casting gave out a low, scrunching grind, and slid to- 
ward him with a lurch. Instantly he shut off the power. 
“This isn’t any ordinary pistol. It’s got seven or eight 
times the ordinary power!” he exclaimed. 

“Oh yes, I forgot,” Morey turned to him, and took it 
from him. “Instead of the fuel battery that the early 
pistols used, this has a space-distortion power coil. 
This pistol has as much power as the usual A-39 power 
unit for commercial woi'k. Arcot used that pistol to 
show you the power of the suit.” 

By the time Morey had explained the change# to 
Fuller, Arcot had the suit on, and was floating five or 
six feet in the air, like a grotesque captive balloon. 
“Ready, Fuller?” 

“I guess so, but I certainly hope that suit is all it is 
claimed to be. If it isn’t — well I’d rather not commit 
murder. All the people in the system would be howling 
for my corp.«e if I murdered the man who gave them 
unlimited energy and unlimited mobility!” 

“It’ll work,” said Arcot, a slow smile on his face. 
“Fil bet my neck on that!” Suddenly he was surrounded 
by the fainte.st of auras, a strange, wavering blue light, 
like the hazy corona about a 400,000-volt power line. 
“Now ti-y it.” 

Fuller pointed the pistol at the floating man and 
pushed the trigger. The brilliant blue beam of the 
molecular ray, and the low hum of the air, rushing in 
the path of the director beam, stabbed out toward Arcot. 
The faint aura about him was suddenly intensified a 
million times till he floated in a bail of blue-white fire. 
Scarcely visible, the air about him blazed with bluish 
incandescence of ionization. 

“Increase the power,” suggested Morey. Fuller 
turned on more power. The blue halo was shot through 
with tiny violet spai'ks, the sharp odor of ozone in the 
air was stifling ; the heat of wasted energy was making 
the room hotter. The power increased further, and 
the tiny sparks were waving streamers, that laced across 
the surface of the blue fire. Little jets of electric flame 
reached out along the beam of the ray now. Finally, 
as full power of the molecular ray was reached, the en- 
tire halo was buried under a mass of writhing sparks 
that seemed to leap up into the air above the man’s head, 
wavering up to extinction. The room was unbearably 
hot, despite the molecular ray coolers absorbing the heat 
of the air, and blowing cooled air into the room. 

Fuller snapped off the ray, and put the pistol on the 
table beside him. The halo died, and went out a mo- 
ment later, and Arcot settled to the floor. 

“This particular suit will stand up against anything 
the ordinary commercial sets will give. The system 
now : remember that the rays are short electrical waves. 
The easiest way to stop them is to interpose a wave of 
opposite phase, and cause interference. Fine, but try 
to get in tune with an unknown wave when it is moving 
in relation to your center of control. It is impossible 
to do it before you yourself have been rayed out of 
existence. We must use some system that will auto- 
matically, instantly be out of phase. 

“The Hall effect would naturally tend to make the 
frequency of a wave through a resisting medium change, 
and lengthen. If we can send out a spheripal wave 
front, and have it lengthen rapidly as it proceeds, we 




150 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



will have a wave-front that is, at all points, different. 
Any entering wave would, sooner or later, meet a wave 
that was half a phase out, no matter what the motion 
was, nor what the frequency, as long as it lies within 
the comparatively narrow molecular wave band. What 
this apparatus, or ray screen, consists of, is a machine 
generating a spherical wave front of the nature of a 
molecular wave, but of just too great a frequency to do 
anything. A second part generates a condition in space, 
which opposes that wave. After traveling a certain 
distance, the wave has lengthened to molecular wave 
type, but is now beyond the machine which generated 
it, and no longer affects it, or damages it. However, 
as it proceeds, it continues to lengthen, till eventually 
it reaches the length of infra-light, when the air quickly 
absorbs it, as it reaches one of the absorption bands 
for air molecules. But, in the meantime, it has run the 
entire gamut of molecular waves, and any molecular 
wave must find its half-wave complement somewhere 
in that wedge of waves. It does, and is at once choked 
off, its energy fighting the energy of the ray screen, of 
course. In the air, however, the screen is greatly 
helped by the fact that before the half-wave frequency 
is met in the ray-wedge, the molecular ray meets a wave 
that makes it ionize the air, and most of the molecular 
ray is buried in ions, leaving the ray screen little work 
to do. 

“Now your job is to design the apparatus in a form 
that machines can make automatically. We tided doing 
it ourselves for the fun of it, but we couldn’t see how 
we could make a machine that didn’t need at least two 
humans to supervise.” 

“W'ell,” grinned Fuller, “you have it all over m? as 
scientists, but as economic workers — two human super- 
visors to make one product!” 

“All right — we agree. But no, let’s see you — Lord! 
What was that?” Morey started for the door on the 
run. The building was still trembling from the shock 
of a heavy blow, a blow that seemed much as though a 
machine had been wrecked on the armoured roof, and a 
big machine at that. Arcot, a flying suit already on, was 
was up in the air, and darting past Morey in an instant, 
streaking for the vertical shaft that would let him out 
to the roof. The molecular ray pistol was already in 
his hand, ready to pull any beams off unfortunate vic- 
tims pinned under them. 

I N a moment he had flashed up through the seven 
stories, and out to the roof. A gigantic silvery machine 
rested there, a huge, tapering machine, streamlined to 
perfection, its rounded fluted hull dazzlingly beautiful 
in the sunlight. A door opened, and three tall, lean men 
stepped from it. Already a crowd of people were collect- 
ing about the ship, flying up from below. The three 
men blinked in the bright sunlight, gazing in amaze- 
ment at the men floating in the air, calling to each 
other. Air patrolmen floated up in a minute, and 
seeing Arcot, held the crowd back. 

The strange ship proclaimed in an instant that this 
was no ship of the system, and the strange men told the 
same story. They were tall, eight feet or more in 
height. Great, round, soft brown eyes looked in be- 
wildered curiosity at the towering multicolored build- 
ings, at the people floating in the air, at the green trees 
and the blue sky, the yellowish sun. 

Arcot looked at them, at their strangely blotched and 
mottled head and fa«e, their arms and hands. Their 
feet were very long and narrow, their legs long and 
thin. Their faces were kindly, but bewildered now, 
the mottled skin, brown and white and black, seemed 
not to make them ugly. It was not a disfigurement; 
it seemed oddly familiar and natural; the pointed ears, 
too, seemed familiar in some reminiscent way. 



Suddenly Morey was beside Arcot, and a moment 
later Fuller and Wade joined him, their flying suits on 
at last. 

“Lord, Arcot — queer specimens, yet they seem fa- 
miliar!” said Morey in an undertone. 

“Oh — no wonder! They are. Their race is that of 
man’s first and best friend, the dog! These are canine 
people ! See the typical brown eyes ? The typical teeth, 
their feet now flat on the ground, still show the traces 
of the dog’s toe-step. Their nails, not flat like human 
ones, but rounded? The mottled skin, the ears — look, 
one is advancing.” Arcot spoke hurriedly. 

One of the strangers walked laboriously forward. A 
lighter world than Earth was evidently his home. His 
great brown eyes fixed themselves on Arcot’s. Arcot 
watched them. They seemed to expand, grow larger; 
they seemed to fill all the sky. Arcot was curious; 
why was this, and why was this feeling of content. 

Suddenly realization came. Hypnotism! He con- 
centrated his mind trained by Venerian masters, and 
the eyes suddenly contracted to the normal eyes of the 
stranger, shrank even more, the man reeled back, as 
Arcot’s telepathic command to sleep came, stronger 
than his own will. The stranger’s friends caught him, 
shook him, but he slept. One of the others looked at 
Arcot, his eyes seemed hurt, desperately pleading. 

Arcot strode forward, and quickly brought the man 
out of the trance. He shook his head, smiled at Arcot, 
then, with desperate difficulty, he enunciated some 
words in English, terribly distorted. 

“Ahy wizz tahk. Vokle kohds ron. Tahk by breen.*” 

Puzzled, Arcot repeated the words to himself, turning 
to Morey for assistance in deciphering the meaning. 
Wade finally got it, and explained v^hat they meant. In- 
stantly Arcot turned to the speaker, and without hyp- 
notism, communicated by the Venerian method, telepa- 
thically. 

“Good enough. When you attempted to hypnotize 
me, I didn’t know what you wanted, and knowing 
nothing of your mission, I naturally determined to over- 
come you. It is not necessary to hypnotize one to carry 
on communication by the method of the second world 
of this system. What brings you to our system? From 
what system do you come? What do you wish to say?” 

The other, not having learned the Venerian system, 
had great difficulty iii communicating his thoughts, but 
Ai'cot learned that they had machines which would 
make it easier, and thq Terrestrian invited them into 
his laboratory, for the crowd was steadily growing. 

The three returned to their ship for a moment, com- 
ing out with several peculiar headsets. Almost at once 
the ship started to rise, going up more and more swiftly, 
as the people cleared a way for it. 

Then, in the tiniest fraction of a second, the ship was 
gone; it shrank to a point, and was invisible in the 
blue vault of the sky. 

“Apparently they intend to stay a while,” said Wade. 
“They are trusting souls, for their line of retreat is cut 
off. We naturally have no intention of harming them, 
but they can’t know that.” 

“I’m not so sure,” said Arcot. He turned to the ap- 
parent leader of the three men of another world, and 
explained briefly that there were several stories to 
descend, and stairs were harder than a flying unit. 
“Wrap your arms about my legs, when I rise above you, 
and hold on till your feet are on the floor again,” he 
concluded. 

The stranger walked a little closer to the edge of the 
rising shaft, and looked down. White bulbs illuminated 
its walls down its length to the ground. The man talked 
rapidly to his friends, looking with evident distaste 

i 

*“I wish (to) talk. Vocal cords wrong. Talk by brain.’* 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



151 



at the shaft, and the tiny pack on Arcot’s back. Finally, 
shaking his shoulders a little, and smiling, he evinced 
his willingness. Arcot rose, the man grasped his legs, 
and then both rose. Over the shaft, and down to his 
laboratory was the work of a moment. Morey and 
Wade followed immediately with the other two, Fuller 
coming down just behind them. In common with most 
people unfamiliar with the operation of the molecular 
lift-suits who are thus given a lift, the three dropped 
when they came within a foot or so of the floor, with 
the natural result that the terrestrians, who had carried 
them, had about two hundred and fifty pounds excess 
lift, and fell heavily to the ceiling. However, as Arcot 
had expected it, he had warned the others, and no heads 
were bumped. An inverted fall can be a mean thing. 
The head and neck practically always get the full force 
of the blow, which may be several times heavier than a 
fall under gravity, for the acceleration produced by a 
molecular lift is easily greater than g. 

ARCOT lead them into his “consultation room,” where 
Xx. a number of comfortable chairs were arranged, 
facing each other. He seated them together, and his 
own friends facing them. He left the room, explaining 
that he was going to call his father. 

In less than three minutes both were back, Arcot 
junior having already explained as much as he knew 
of his guests. 

“Friends of another world,” began Arcot, Jr., when 
they were finally seated, “we do not know your errand 
here, but you evidently have good reason for coming to 
this place. It is unlikely that your landing was the result 
of sheer chance. What brought you? How came you 
to this point?” 

“It is difficult for me to reply. First we must be en 
rapport. Our system is not simple as yours, but more 
effective, for yours depends on thought ideas, not al- 
together universal. Place these on your heads, for 
only a moment. I must induce temporary hypnotic 
coma. Let one try first if you desire.” The leader 
of the visitors held out one of the several headsets they 
had brought, caplike things, made of laminated metal 
apparently. 

Arcot took it, and was ready to slip it on, when his 
father stopped him. “They may mean well, and yet 
it may turn out that what is their meat is our poison. 
That may ruin your mind. Don’t.” 

Arcot hesitated, then with a grin slipped it on. “I 
think they ai'e friends, and I think they know what they 
are talking about.” 

“Relax,” came a voice in Arcot’s head, a low, droning 
voice, a voice of command. “Sleep,” it added. Arcot 
felt himself floating down an infinite shaft, on some 
superflying suit that did not pull at him with its straps. 
Just floating down lightly, down and down and down. 
Suddenly he reached the bottom, and found to his sur- 
prise that it led directly into the room again ! He was 
back. “You are awake. Speak!” came the voice. 

Arcot shook himself, and looked about. A new voice 
spoke now, not the tonelessly melodious voice, but the 
voice of an individual, yet a mental voice. It was per- 
fectly clear, and perfectly comprehensible. “We have 
traveled far to find you, and now we have business of 
the utmost import. Ask these others to let us treat 
them, for we must do what we can in the least possible 
time. I will explain when all can understand. I am 
Zezdon Fentes, First Student of Thought. He who sits 
on my right is Zezdon Afthen, and he beyond him, is 
Zezdon Inthel, of Physics and of Chemistry, respect- 
ively.” 

And now Arcot spoke to his friends. 

“These men have something of the greatest impor- 
tance to tell us, it seems. They want us all to hear. 



and they are in a hurry. The treatment isn’t at all 
annoying. Try it. The man on the extreme right, as 
we face them, is Zezdon Fentes of Thought, Zezdon 
apparently meaning something like professor, or ‘First 
Student of.’ Those next him are Zezdon Afthen of 
Physics and Zezdon Inthel of Chemistry.” 

Zezdon Afthen offered them the headsets, and in a 
moment everyone present was wearing one. The pro- 
cess of putting them en rapport took very little time, 
and shortly all were able to communicate with ease. 

“Friends of Earth, we must tell our strange story 
quickly for the benefit of your world as well as of ours, 
and others, too. We bring news of a menace of cosmic 
proportions of an enemy that we cannot so much as 
annoy. We are helpless to combat them. 

“Our w'orld lies far out across the galaxy. It is the 
planet of a sun somewhat larger than yours, but our 
scientists have for many years observed your sun with 
great interest, longing always to reach it and investi- 
gate it— for we are your twin! Our race lives on a 
world that owes its existence to your sun, as your planet 
owes its being to our sun! Our two suns passed each 
other at close range in the ages long, long passed, and 
they drew — but I see that you know the story of the 
formation of planets from suns. At any rate, our 
worlds are twins. The outer worlds of our system show 
chemical substances not found on the inner worlds, for 
the planetary filament was mixed, the substance of the 
two suns joining and forming the great filament. Al- 
ways your sun has been of interest to us, and to the 
Ancient Masters before us. The Ancient Masters 
learned the secret of space travel, but never could they 
make a machine capable of traversing the 250,000 light 
years that separate the worlds once so close — many 
times in the ages past so close. In another' hundred 
million years perhaps — then we will be next door 
neighbors. But even with incalculable velocity of the 
greafhwift thing that bore us, three long months have 
we traveled toward your distant worlds, hoping against 
hope that we would find the aid we needed, hoping that 
at last the Invaders might meet their masters. 

“We landed on this roof, Arcot, because we examined 
mentally the knowledge of a pilot of one of your patrol 
ships. His mind told us that here we would find the 
three greatest students of Science of this Solar System. 
So it was here we came for help,” explained Zezdon 
Afthen in reply to Arcot’s previous question. 

“Our race has arisen,” he continued, “as you have 
so surely determined, from the race you call canines. 
It was artificially produced by the Ancient Masters 
when their hour of need had come. We have lost the 
great science of the Ancient Ones. But we have de- 
veloped a different science, a science of the mind.” 
“Dogs are far more psychic than are men. They 
would naturally tend to develop such a civilization,” 
said Arcot senior judiciously. 

CHAPTER III 

A Quarter of a Million Light Years 

“/'^UR civilization,” continued Zezdon Afthen, “is 
built largely on the knowledge of the mind. We 
cannot have criminals, as your world unfortu- 
nately has, for the man who plots evil, is surely found 
out by his thoughts. We cannot have lying politicians 
and unjust rulers. Our government must be just and 
honest, and there can be no wars. 

“It is a peaceful civilization. The Ancient Masters 
feared and hated W’ar with a mighty aversion. But 
they did not make our race cowards, merely peaceful 
intelligence. Now we must fight for our homes, and 
my race will fight mightily. But we need weapons. 




152 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



"But my story has little to do with our race. I will 
tell the story of our civilization and of the Ancient 
Ones later when the time is more auspicious. 

“Four months ago, our mental vibration instruments 
detected powerful emanations from space. That could 
only mean that a new, highly intelligent race had sud- 
denly appeared within a billion miles of our world. The 
directional activity-locating devices quickly spotted it 
as emanating from the third, and largest planet of our 
system. Zezdon Fentes, with my aid, set up some special 
apparatus, and invented the greatest wonder our w'orld 
has known. He has discovered a way of so hetrodyning 
a thought vibration of the order of the — . But you 
do not know all of thought. Never mind that. But he 
invented a machine that makes thought visible. 

"With it we could ses not only w’hat the enemy looked 
upon, but what he saw in that curious thing, the eye 
of the mind, the vision of the past and the future. It 
was an immense labor, possible only because the men 
stayed on that world for a long time. But finally it 
was finished. We had a machine which would pick up 
strong thoughts and make them visible. You who know’ 
so little of thought and so much of the forces of space 
cannot appreciate what it was. But it was a wonder 
to us. We had thought-amplification devices, and w'e 
could pick up those distant thoughts. We could have 
made them visible, those thought of those men, if only 
we could get them separated, 

"It w’as done finally, when all but one man slept. 
That one w'e w’ere enabled to tune sharplj’ to. After 
that we could reach him at any time. He w'as the com- 
mandex’. We saw him operate the ship, we saw’ the 
ship, saw it glide over the barren, rocky surface of that 
w’oi’ld. We saw other men come in and go out. They 
were strange men. Shoi’t, squat, bulky men'. Their 
arms were short and stocky. But their strength was 
enoi’mous, unbelievable. We saw them bend solid bars 
of steel as thick as my arm, with perfect easel ’ 

“Their brains were tremendously active, but the}’ 
were evil, selfishly evil. Nothing that did not benefit 
them counted. At one time our instruments went dead, 
and we feared that the commander had detected us, 
but we saw what happened a little later. The second 
in command had killed him, blasting a little hole, the 
diameter of a pencil of your world, through his head. 
A ray — some shining bright ray that I cannot under- 
stand, 

“We saw them examine the world, working their way 
across it, w'earing heavy suits, yet, for all the terrific 
gravity of that w'orld, bouncing about like rubber balls, 
leaping and jumping where they w'anted. Their legs 
would drive out like pistons, and they soared up and 
through the air. 

"They were tired while they made those examina- 
tions, and slept heavily at night. There was little 
thought, save of the morrow. 

“Then one night there was a conference. W'e saw 
then what they intended. Before we had tried desper- 
ately to signal them. Now w'e were glad that we had 
failed. 

"W''e saw their ship rise (in the thoughts of the 
second in command) and sail out into space, and rush 
toward our world. The world grew larger, but it was 
only dimly, imperfectly sketched in, for they did not 
know our world well. Their telescopes did not have 
great power as your electric telescopes have, 

‘‘We saw them investigate the planet, but there were 
no people. Then there were people on it, and they 
destroyed the people with either a ray which was as 
follows: ‘the ray which makes all parts move as one,’ 
or another which was: ‘the ray which is light of very 
great brightness or speed of rotation.’ We could not 
understand and could not interpret. Thoughts beyond 



our knowledge have, of course, no meaning, even when 
our mental amplifiers get them, and bring them to us.” 

“The Molecular ray and the Cosmic Ray!” gasped 
Morey in surprise, “They will be an enemy.” 

“You know it! It is familiar to you! You have it? 
You can fight it?” asked Zezdon Afthen excitedly, 

“We know it, and can fight it, if that is all they 
have.” 

“They have more — much more I fear,” replied Zezdon 
Afthen hopelessly. ‘‘At any rate, we saw what they 
intended. If our world was inhabited, they would 
destroy every one on it, and then, from somewhere 
across the void, other men of their race were to float in 
on their great ships, and settle on that largest of our 
worlds. 

“We had to stop them, so we did what we could. We 
had powerful machines, which would amplify and broad- 
cast our thoughts. That seemed the only way we could 
get them in our power. Certainly, as they came near 
our world, they would see our cities and become care- 
ful, perhaps not land at any point. So we broadcast 
our thought-waves, and implanted in the mind of their 
leader that it would be wise to land, even if the world 
were inhabited, and learn the extent of the civiliza- 
tion, and the weapons to be met. Also, as the ship drew 
nearer, we made him decide on a certain spot we had 
prepared for him. 

“He never guessed that the thoughts were not his 
own. Only the ideas came to him, seeming to spring 
from his own mind. Thought is a mysterious thing, 
and only the greatest experts can determine successfully 
whether their thoughts are their own, or ideas supplied 
by others. He never guessed it. 

"T TE landed — and w’e used our one weapon. It was 
JrX a thing left to one group of rulers when the 
Ancient Masters left us to care for ourselves. What it 
W'as, we never knew; we had never used it in the fifteen 
thousand years since the Great Masters had passed — 
never had to. But now’ it was brought out, and con- 
cealed behind great churned piles of rock in a deep 
canon, where the ship of the enemy would land soon. 
When it landed, we turned the strange beam of the 
machine on it, and the apparatus rotated it swiftly, 
and a cone of the beam’s ray was formed as the beam 
was swung through a small circle in the vertical plane. 
The machine leaped backwards, and though it was so 
massive that a tremendous amount of labor had been re- 
quired to bring it there, the push of the pencil of force 
we sent out hurled it back against a rocky cliff behind 
it as though it were some child’s toy. It continued to 
operate for perhaps a second, perhaps two. In that time 
two great holes had been cut in the enemy ship, holes 
fifteen feet across, that ran completely through the hull, 
as though a die had cut through the metal of the ship, 
cutting out a disc of metal. 

“There was a terrific concussion, and a roar as the air 
blasted out of the ship. The huge discs of metal were 
hurled across the canon by the escaping air, and struck 
the wall with terrific force, splintering the solid rock t» 
sand, yet not so much as scratching those glass-like 
discs. 

“Relux-coated lux I should say, eh Arcot?” muttered 
Morey. 

"Probably. Go on Zezdon Afthen.” 

"You know of that, too?” Zezdon asked, eagerly glad 
of their knowledge. 

“To continue; the material we did not know, but it 
did not take us long to discover that the enemy were 
dead. Their terrible, bloated corpses lay everywhere in 
the ship. Most of the men we were able to recognize, 
having seen them in the mentovisor. But the colors 
were distorted, and their forms were peculiar. Indeed, 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



153 



the whole ship seemed strange. There was a weird un- 
reality about it, an impression I could not understand. 
The only time that things ever did seem normal about 
that strange thing, when the angles of it seemed what 
they were, when the machines did not seem out of pro- 
portion, out of shape, twisted, was when on a trial 
trip we ventured very close to our sun.” 

Arcot whistled softly and looked at Morey. Morey 
nodded. “Probably right. Don’t interrupt.” 

“That you thought something, I understood, but the 
thoughts themselves were hopelessly unintelligible to 
me. You know the explanation?” asked Zezdon Afthen 
eagerly. 

“We think so. The ship, which you captured, was 
evidently made on a world of huge size. Those men, 
their stocky, block legs and arms, their entire build and 
their desire for the largest of your planets, would indi- 
cate that. Their own world was probably even larger — 
they were forced to wear pressure suits even on that 
large world, and could jump all over, you said. On so 
huge a sphere as their native world seems to be, the 
gravity would be so intense as to distort space. Geome- 
try, such as yours seems to be, and such as ours was, 
could never be developed, for you assume the existence 
of a straight line, and of an absolute plane surface. 
These things cannot exist in space, but on small worlds, 
far from the central sun’s mass, the conditions approach 
that without sufficient discrepency to make the error 
obvious. On so huge a globe as their world, perhaps 
as large as our sun, the space is so curved that it is 
at once obvious that no straight line exists, and that 
no plane exists. Their geometry would never be like 
ours, nor like yours. When you went close to your 
sun, the attraction was sufficient to curve space into 
a semblance of the natural conditions on their home 
planet, then your senses and the ship met a compromise 
condition which made it seem more or less normal, not 
so obviously strange to you. 

“But continue,” Arcot looked at Afthen interestedly. 

“There were none left in their ship now, and we 
had been careful in locating the first hole, that it should 
not damage the propulsive machinery. The second hole 
was accidental, due to the shift of the machine. The 
machine itself was wrecked now, for it had been 
crushed by its own reaction. We forgot that any pencil 
of force powerful enough to do what we wanted, would 
tear the machine from its moorings unless fastened 
with great steel bolts into the solid rock. 

“The second hole had been far to the rear, and had, 
by ill-luck, cut out a portion of the driving apparatus. 
It was, to us, irreplaceable. We could not repair that, 
though we did succeed at last in lifting the great discs 
into place. We attempted to cut them, and put them 
back in sections. Our finest saws and machines did 
not nick them. Their weight was unbelievable, and yet 
we finally, with terrible labor in that forsaken place, for 
from machine shops, succeeded in lifting the things into 
the wall of the ship. The actual missing material did 
not represent more than a tiny cut, perhaps as wide as 
one of your credit-discs. You could slip a thin piece 
of metal in between them, but not so much as your 
finger. 

“Those slots we welded tight with our best steel, 
letting a flap hang over on each side of the cut, and as 
the hot metal cooled, it was drawn against the shining 
walls with terrific force. A softer metal with a higher 
melting point had been put in first, and this yielded 
under the pressure, and flowed into the slight holes like 
a grommat. The joints were perfectly airtight. 

“The machines proper were repaired to the greatest 
possible extent. It was a heart-breaking task, for we 
must only guess at what machines should be connected 
together. Much damage had been done by the rushing 



air as it left, for it filled the machines, too, and they 
were not designed to resist the terrific air presure that 
was on them when the pressure in the ship escaped. 
Many of the machines had been burst open, and these 
we could repair when we had the necessary elements 
and knew their construction from the remnants, or 
could find unbx'oken duplicates in the stock rooms. 

“Once we connected the wi'ong things. This will 
show you what we dealt with. They were the wrong 
poles — two generators, connected together in the wrong 
way. There was a terrific crash when the switch was 
thrown, and huge sheets of electric flame lept from one 
of them. Two men were killed, incinerated in an in- 
stant, even the odors one might expect were killed in 
that flash of heat. Everything save the shining metal 
and clear glass within ten feet of it was instantly wiped 
out. And there was a fuse link that gave. The genera- 
tor was ruined. One was left, and several small 
auxiliary generators. 

“Eventually, the Lord of Space alone knows how, we 
did the job. We made the machine work. And we are 
here.” 

Zedzon Afthen paused; he looked tired now. 

“I will continue,” said Zezdon Fentes. “We have come 
to warn you, and to ask aid. You can see that we need 
aid. But now the warning to you. Your system also 
has a large planet, slightly smaller than the largest 
of our system, but yet attractive. There are approxi- 
mately 50,000 planetary systems in this universe, ac- 
cording to the records of the Invaders. Their world is 
not of this system. It is the World Thett, sun Antseck, 
Universe Venone. Where that is, or even what it 
means, we do not know. Perhaps you understand. 

“But they investigated your world, and its address, 
according to their records, was World 3769-8482730-3. 
This, I believe, means. Universe 3769, sun 8482730, 
world 3. They have been investigating this system now 
for nearly three centuries. It was close to 200 years 
ago that they visited your world — two hundred years 
of your time.” 

“This is 2129 — which makes it about the year 1929-30 
that they floated around here investigating. Why 
haven’t they done anything?” Arcot asked him. 

“They waited for an auspicious time. They are wait- 
ing for some weapon. They are afraid now, for re- 
cently they visited your world, and were utterly amazed 
to find the unbelievable progress your people have made. 
They intend to make an immediate attack on all worlds 
known to be intelligently populated. They had made 
the mistake of letting one race learn too much, they 
cannot afford to let it happen again. 

“There are only twenty-one inhabited worlds known, 
and their thousands of scouts have already investigated 
nearly all the central mass of this universe, and much 
of the outer rings. They have established a base in 
this universe. Where I do not know. That, alone, was 
never mentioned in the records. But of all peoples, they 
feared only your world. 

“There is one race in the- universe far older than 
yours, but they are a sleeping people. Long ago their 
culture decayed. Still, now they are not far from 
you, and perhaps it would be worth the few days needed 
to learn more about them. We have their location and 
can take you there. Their world circles a dead star — ” 

“Not any more,” laughed Morey grimly. “That’s 
another surprise for our friends, the enemy. They had 
a little jog, and they certainly are wide awake now. 
They are headed for big things, and they are going to 
do a lot.” 

“TJUT how do you know these things? you have 

J3 ships that can go from planet to planet, I know, 
but the records of the enemy said you could not 




154 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



leave the system of your sun. They alone knew that 
secret.” 

"Another surprise for them. We can — and we can 
move faster than your ship, if not faster than they. 
The people of the dead star have moved to a very live 
star — Sirius, the brightest in our heavens. And they 
are as much alive now as their new sun. They can 
move faster than light, also. I don’t know how, yet. 
We had a little misunderstanding a while back, when 
their star passed close to ours. They came off second 
best, and we haven’t spoken to them since. Bat I think 
we can make valuable allies there. 

"But continue,” for all Morey’s jocular manner, he 
realized the terrible import of this announcement. A 
race which had been able to cross the vast gulf of inter- 
galactic space in the days when Terrestrians were still 
developing the airplane — it had just been invented then, 
back in 1930, and ali’eady they had mapped Jupiter, and 
planned their colonies! When the submarine was still 
an important instrument of war! What developments 
had come? They had molecular rays, cosmic rays, the 
energy of matter, then — what else had they now? Lux 
and Relux, the two artificial metals, made of solidified 
light, far stronger than anything of molecular struc- 
ture in nature, absolutely infusible, totally inert chem- 
ically, one a perfect conductor of light and of all radia- 
tion in space, the other, from its very name, indicated 
a perfect reflector of all radiations — save molecular 
rays. Made into the condition of reflection by the action 
of special frequencies in its formation from light, mole- 
cular frequencies were, unfortunately, able to convert 
it into perfectly transparent lux metal, when the pro- 
tective value was gone. 

They had that. All Earth had, perhaps. 

"There was one other race of some importance, the 
ethers were semi-civilized. They rated us in a position 
between these races and the high races — yours, those 
of the dead star, and those of world 3769-37 :478 :326 :- 
894-6. Our science had been investigated during the 
time of — an ancient ruler. You had best merely know 
it as two hundred or so years ago. 

"This other race was at a great distance from us, 
greater than yours, and apparently not feared as greatly 
as yours. They cannot cross to other worlds, save in 
small ships driven solely by fire, which the Thessians 
have called a ‘hopelessly inefficient and laughably awk- 
ward thing to ride in.’ ” 

"Rockets,” grinned Morey. "Our first ship was part 
rocket.” 

Zezdon Fentes smiled. “But that is all. We have 
brought you warning, and our plea. Can you help us?” 
His thoughts were anxious for his people, as they came 
clearly to the men seated before him. 

"We cannot answer that. The Interplanetary Council 
must act. But I am afraid that it will be all we can 
do to protect our own world if this enemy attacks 
soon, and I fear they will. Since they have a base in 
this universe, it is impossible to believe that all ships 
did not report back to the home world at stated inter- 
vals. That one is missing will soon be discovered, and 
it will be sought. War will start at once. Three months 
it took you to reach us— they should come soon. Three 
months those men who left will be on their way back 
to the home world from which they came — from your 
world. What do you call your planet, friend?” 

“Ortol is our home,” replied Zezdon Inthel. 

"At any rate, I can only asure you that your world 
will be given weapons that will permit your people to 
defend themselves as well as our own people can de- 
fend themselves, and I will get you to your home within 
twenty-four hours. Your ship — is it in the system?” 

“It waits on the second satellite of the fourth planet,” 
replied Zezdon Afthen. 



“Signal them, and request them to land where a 
beacon of intense light, alternating red and blue, reaches 
up from — this point on the map.” Arcot pointed out 
the spot in Vermont where their private lake and 
laboratory were. Here the larger scale experiments 
were carried out. Here the first molecular motion ship 
of earth had been built. Here the Solarite, first of the 
interplanetary ships had been launched. Here the 
Ancient Mariner, the first intergalactic ship of Earth — 
of this universe — had been built. 

“We will leave you now. No, come with us,” Arcot 
turned to the others, and in rapid-fire English, he ex- 
plained his plans. 

“We need the help of these people as much as they 
need ours. Dad, you can better speak to the authorities. 
I think Zezdon Afthen — no better Zezdon Fentes — will 
stay here and help you. The others will go with us 
to their world. There we shall have plenty of work to 
do, but on the v,?ay we are going to stop at Mars and 
pick up that very valuable ship of theirs and make a 
very careful examination for possible new weapons, 
their system of speed-drive, and their regular space- 
drive, if it is not the same. I’m willing to make a bet 
right now, that I can guess both. Their regular drive 
is a molecular drive with lead disintegration apparatus 
for the energy; cosmic ray absorbers for the heating, 
and a drive much like ours. Their speed drive is a time 
distortion apparatus. I’ll wager. It would be very 
natural for men on so huge a world to become ac- 
quainted early with the intricacies of dimensional space. 
Time distinction offers an easy solution of speed. All 
speed is relative — relative to other bodies, but also to 
time-speed. But we’ll see. 

“I’m going to hustle some workmen to installing the 
biggest spare power board I can get into the store- 
rooms of the Ancient Mariner, and pack in a ray-screen. 
It will be useful. Let’s move.” 

“Our ship,” said Zezdon Afthen,” will land in three 
of your hours.” 

CHAPTER IV 
The First Move 

T he Ortolians were standing in silent awe on a 
low, green-clad hill. Below them stretched the 
green flank of the little rise, and beyond lay ridge 
after ridge of the broad, smooth carpet of the beautiful 
Vermont hills. Little narrow valleys ran between 
mountains that extended back in serried ranks, while 
over their haze-blued masses a great ball of red fire 
sank behind the green curtain of the mountains. Little 
white clouds, stained with delicate rose, floated in a sky 
that was deep azure. 

“Man of Earth,” said Zezdon Afthen turning at last 
to Wade, who stood behind him. “It took us three 
months of constant flight at a speed unthinkable, 
through space dotted with the titanic gems of the Outer 
Dark, stars gleaming in red, and blue and orange, some 
titanic lighthouses of our course, others dim pinpoints 
of glowing color. It was a scene of unspeakable gran- 
deur, but it was so awesomely mighty in its scope, one 
was afraid, and his- soul shriveled within him as he 
looked at those inconceivable masses floating forever 
alone in the silence of the inconceivable nothingness of 
eternal cold and eternal darkness. One was awed, sup- 
pressed by their sheer magnitude. A magnificent spec- 
tacle truly, but one no man could love. 

“Now we are at rest on a tiny pinpoint of dust in a 
tiny bit of a tiny corner of an isolated universe, and 
the magnitude and stillness is gone. Only the chippings 
of those strange birds as they seek rest in darkness, the 
soft gurgling of the little stream below, and the rustle 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



155 



of countless leaves, break the silence with a satisfying 
existence, while the loneliness of that great star, your 
sun, is lost in its tintings of soft color, the fleeciness 
of the clouds, and the seeming companionship of green 
hills. 

“The beauty of boundless space is awe-inspiring in 
its magnitude. The beauty of Earth is something man 
can love. 

“Man of Earth, you have a home that you may well 
fight for with all the strength of your arms, all the 
forces of your brain, and all the energies of Space that 
you can call forth to aid you. It is a wondrous world.” 
Silently he stood in the gathering dusk, as first Venus 
winked into being, then one by one the stars came into 
existence in the deepening color of the sky. 

“Space is awesomely wonderful; this is — lovable.” 
He gazed long at the heavens of this world so strange, 
so beautiful to him, looking at the unfamiliar heavens, 
as star after star flashed into the constellations so 
familiar to terrestrians and to those Venerians who had 
been above the clouds of Venus’ eternal shroud. 

“But somewhere off there in space are other races, 
and far beyond the power of our eyes to see is the star 
that is the sun of my world, and around it circles that 
little globe that is home to me. What is happening 
there now? Does it still exist? Are there people still 
living on it? Oh, Man of Earth, let us reach that world 
quickly, you cannot guess the pangs that attack me, 
for if it be destroyed think — forever I am without home 
— without friends I knew. However kind your people 
may be to me, I would be forever lonely. 

“I will not think of that — only it is time your ship 
was ready, is it not?” 

“I think we had better return,” replied Wade softly, 
his English words rousing thoughts in his mind intel- 
ligible to the Ortolians. 

The three rose in the air on the molecular suits and 
drove quickly down toward the blue gem of the lake to 
the east, nestled among still other green hills. Lights 
were showing in the great shop, where the Ancient 
Mariner was being fitted with the ray-shields, and all 
possible weapons. Men streaming through her were 
hastily stocking her with vast quantities of foods, stocks 
of fuel, all the spare parts they could cram into her 
stock rooms. 

When the men arrived from the hilltop, the work was 
practically done, and Wade stepped up to Morey, busily 
checking off a list of required items. 

“Everything you ordered came through?” he asked. 

“Yes— thanks to Dad, and to the ‘pull’ of a two- 
billion dollar private fortune. Who says credit-units 
don’t have their value? This expedition never would 
have gotten through, if it hadn’t been for that. We 
succeeded in ditching two big orders in the process. 
Ganymede Mining lost some time — and they are already 
howling. So is Martian Lead — which is very sad. 

“But we have the main space distortion power bank, 
and the new auxiliary coils full. Ten tons of lead 
aboard for fuel. Installed the ray screens, and have 
arranged so that the power tube banks that push them 
can be switched by relays from the control room almost 
instantly to ray power tubes. They all operate mole- 
cular rays as powerful as any kriown tube can handle. 
That’s one thing we are afraid of. If the enemy have 
a system of tubes that is able to handle more power 
than our last tube — we’re sunk. These brilliant people 
that suggest using more tubes to a ray-power bank 
forget the last tube has to handle the entire output of 
all the others, and modulate it correctly. If the enemy 
has a better tube — it will be too bad for us.” Morey 
was frankly worried. 

“My end is all set, Morey. How soon will you be 
ready?” Arcot asked. 



“ ’Bout ten-fifteen minutes, I guess, Arcot.” Morey 
lit an imported Venerian cigarette and watched as the 
last of the stuff was carried aboard, checking his list 
as load after load was carried in by molecular handler 
machines. 

At last they were ready, some five minutes before 
Morey had assigned as the time for departure. The 
Ancient Mariner, originally built for intergalactic ex- 
ploration, was kept in working condition, and used fre- 
quently, for whenever Arcot or Morey wanted to go to 
one of the other planets, they had used this large ship, 
for it could exceed the speed of light, and in it the trip 
to Venus, or even the plutium or element 103 mines of 
Pluto were but a few minutes from Vermont. New 
apparatus bad been incorporated in it, as their research 
had led to improvements, and it was constantly in con- 
dition, ready for a trip. Many exploration trips to the 
nearer stars had already been made. 

Z EZDON AFTHEN was intensely interested in learn- 
ing the mechanism of the ship, but Arcot had asked 
him to wait for the explanation till they had left Earth 
and were under way. There was so much to do in the 
meantime. 

The ship was backed out from the hangar now, and 
rested on the great smooth landing field, its tremendous 
quarter million ton mass of lux and relux sinking a 
great, smooth depression in the turf of the field. They 
v/ere waiting now for the arrival of the Ortolian, or 
better, Thessian ship. Zezdon Afthen assured them it 
would be there in a few minutes. 

The field was brightly lit now, and the great beacon 
was stabbing its brilliant rays of red and blue far into 
the clear night sky, the rays almost invisible, for the 
air was unusually clear now. 

High in the sky, came the whining whistle of an 
approaching ship, coming at terrific velocity. It came 
nearer the field, darting toward the ground at an un- 
heard of speed, flashing down at a speed of well over 
three thousand miles an hour, and, only in the last fifty 
feet slowed with a sickening deceleration. Even so it 
landed with a crash of fully two hundred miles of 
speed. Arcot gasped at the terrible landing the pilot 
had made, fully expecting to see the great hull dent 
somewhat, even though made of solid relux. And cer- 
tainly the jar would kill every man on board. Yet the 
hull did not seem harmed by the crash, and even the 
ground under the ship was but slightly disturbed, 
though, at a distance of some thirty feet, the entire 
block of soil was crushed, and cracked by the terrific 
impact of hundreds of thousands of tons striking with 
terrific energy. 

“Lord, it’s a wonder they didn’t kill themselves. I 
never saw such a rotten landing,” exclaimed Morey 
with disgust, himself one of the best pilots of Earth. 

“Don’t be too sure. I think they landed gently, and 
at very low speed. Notice how little the soil directly 
under them was dented?” replied Arcot, walking for- 
ward. “They have time control, as I suspected. Ask 
them. They drifted in gently. Their time rate was 
speeded up tremendously, so that what was hundreds of 
miles per hour to us was feet per minute to them. But 
come on, get the handler's to bring that junk up to the 
door — they are coming out.” One of the tall, kindly- 
faced canine people was standing in the doorway now, 
the white light streaming out around him into the night, 
casting a grotesque shadow on the landing field, for all 
the flood lights bathing it. 

Zezdon Afthen came up, and spoke quickly to the man 
evidently in command of the ship. The entire party 
went into the ship, and the “junk” Arcot had referred 
to, the cream of their laboratory instruments, was 
brought in by men operating handlers, little molecular 




156 AMAZING STORI]^ QUARTERLY 



motion ships, with powerful clamps and chains and 
magnets to lift almost any load short of a space ship. 
One of these machines could easily lift a load of a 
thousand tons, and float it where it was wanted. Yet 
they measured but five by two by three feet, and were 
controlled by men walking or flying beside them, hold- 
ing the long flexible control cable. 

For three long hours Arcot and Morey and Wade 
worked at the apparatus in the ship, measuring, calcu- 
lating, observing, following electrical and magnetic and 
sheer force hook-ups of staggering complexity, hidden 
behind great switchboards that had to be cut open many 
times to reach the apparatus behind. They were not 
trying to find the exact method of construction, inter- 
ested only in the principles involved, so that, with the 
data they collected here, they could perform calcula- 
tions of their own, and duplicate or better the results 
of the enemy with apparatus designed by them. Thus 
they would be far more thoroughly familiar with the 
machinery when done. 

Little attention was paid to the actual driving plant, 
for the Terrestrians quickly learned that it was purely 
molecular drive with the same type of lead-fuel burner 
they used in their own ship. The tubes of the power 
bank were, however, a puzzle to them. They v/ere made 
of relux, so that it was impossible to see the interior 
of the tube. To open one was to destroy it, but calcu- 
lations made from readings of their instruments, 
showed that they were more efficient, and could readily 
carry nearly half again the load that the best terres- 
trian tubes could sustain. This meant the enemy could 
send heavier rays and heavier ray screens. 

But finally they returned to the Ancient Mariner, 
and as the Ortolian ship whined its way out to space, 
the Ancient Mariner started, rising faster and faster 
through the atmosphere till it was in the night of 
space. Then the molecular power was shut off, as the 
ship was pointed toward the far distant star of Ortol at 
Zezdon Afthen’s instructions, or better, toward the 
landmark that would guide them. The ship suddenly 
seemed to writhe, space was black and starless about 
them, then sparkling weirdly distorted stars, all before 
them. They were moving, flashing by already. Almost 
before the Ortolians fully realized what was happening, 
a dozen stars had swung past the ship, driving on now 
at better than five light years in every second. At this 
speed, approximately fourteen hours would be needed 
to reach Ortol. The time could be spent in discussion, 
explanation, and calculation on the results they had 
obtained in investigating the Ortol ship. 

“Now, Arcot, perhaps you will explain to me the 
secret of this ship,” said Zezdon Afthen at last, turn- 
ing from the great lux pilot’s window, to Arcot seated 
in the pilot’s chair. “But I know beforehand that only 
the broadest principles will be intelligible to me, for I 
could not understand that ship we captured, after al- 
most four months of study. Yet it crept through space 
at the veriest snail’s pace compared with this ship. Cer- 
tainly no ship could outdistance this in a race!” he 
smiled. 

“As a matter of fact — watch!” Arcot pushed a little 
metal button along a slide to the extreme end. Again 
the ship seemed to writhe. Space was no longer black, 
but faintly gray, and beside them, on either side, 
floated two exact replicas of their ship ! In amazement 
Zezdon Afthen stared. But in another moment, both 
M^ere gone, and space was black, yet in but a few mo- 
ments a grayness was showing, and light was appearing 
from all about, growing gradually in intensity. For 
perhaps three seconds Arcot continued thus, then he 
pulled the metal button down the slide, and flicked over 
. another that he had pulled to cause the second change. 
The stars were again before them, their colors changed 



beyond all recognition at that speed. But the orienta- 
tion of the stars behind them had been familiar. Now 
an entirely different set of constellations showed. 

“I merely opened the ship out to her maximum speed 
for a moment. I was able to see any large star 2000 
light years in our path, and there were none. Small 
stars do not bother us as I will explain. When I put 
on full power of the main power coils, I drove the ship 
up to a speed of 30 light years a second. When I 
turned in the full power of the auxiliary coils as well 
I doubled the power, and the speed was multiplied by 
eight. The result was that in the four seconds of 
racing, we made approximately 1000 light years!” 

Zezdon Afthen gasped. “Two hundred and forty 
light years per second!’’ he paused in bewilderment. 
“Suppose we had struck a small sun, a dark star, even 
a meteor at that speed? We would have been — The 
Great Will alone knows what would have been the 
result!” 

“No, I know the result,” smiled Arcot, “otherwise I 
wouldn’t have done it. The chances are excellent that 
we plowed through more than one meteor, more than 
one dark star, and more than one small sun. 

“But this is the secret: the ship attains the speed 
only by going out of space. Nothing in space can attain 
the speed of light, save radiation! Nothing in normal 
space. But, we alter space, make space along patterns 
we choose, and so distort it that the natural speed of 
radiation is enormously greater. In fact, we so change 
space that nothing can go slower than a speed we fix. 

“Morey — show Afthen the coils, and explain it all to 
him. I’ve got to stay here.” 

AT Arcot’s suggestion, Morey rose, aiid diving 
XY through the weightless ship, went down to the 
power room, and back to the coil room, Zezdon Afthen 
following. Here, giant pots five feet high were .stocked 
in close packed rows. The “pots” contained specially 
designed coils storing tremendous energy, the energy of 
four tons of disintegrated lead, in the only form that 
energy may be stored, as a strain, or distortion in 
space. These charged coils distorted only the space 
within themselves, making a closed field entirely within 
themselves. But in the exact gravitational center of 
the quarter of a million ton ship was a single high 
coil of different design that di.storted space around it, 
as well as the space within it. This, as Morey ex- 
plained, was the control that altered the constants of 
space to suit. The coils were charged, and the energy 
stored. Their energy could be pumped (by the use of 
other energy) into the big coil, and then, when the ship 
slowed to normal space, could be pumped back to them. 
The pumping energy, as well as any further energy 
needed for recharging the coils could be supplied by 
three huge power generators. 

“These energy-producers,” explained Morey, hesi- 
tating to call an apparatus designed to convert the 
energy of lead, or matter, into electrical energy an 
“energy-producer,” “work on a principle known for 
hundreds of years on Earth, but not applied till Arcot 
thought up this thing. Lead, when reduced to a tem- 
perature approaching absolute zero as closely as, for 
instance, liquid helium, has no electrical resistance. 
In other words, no matter how great a current is sent 
through it, there is no resistance, and since r is zero in 
formula for the heat produced in a resisting wire, Tr, 
no heat is produced to raise the temperature. What 
we do is to send a powerful current through a lead 
wire. The wire has a current density so huge that 
the atoms are destroyed, and the protons and electrons 
coalesce into pure radiant energy. Since the mass^ of 
a proton and an electron is very nearly the mass of a 
cosmic ray proton, cosmic rays are given off. Kelux, 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



157 



under the influence of a magnetic field, converts cosmic 
rays directly into electrical potential in a way as yet 
scarcely explained, apparently — well, lux metal is trans- 
parent, and like all transparent substances does not 
conduct electricity by metallic conduction. But relux 
is not transparent; it is reflective, and for some un- 
known reason, transmits electricity. However, not be- 
ing an electric substance, but made of light photons 
bound by their own weight, or mass-attraction, it can 
scarcely transmit electrons. Apparently it transmits 
the spatial strain that is an electric current. Remember 
that electricity travels at 186,000 miles per second, yet 
electrons cannot travel anywhere near that speed, and, 
as a matter of fact, travel slowly. In fact, under ord- 
inary conditions, the drift speed of electrons carrying 
current in an electric wire is of the order of — about the 
length of my arm per second. Of course, in the lead 
wire in the generators, due to the enormous current 
density, the drift speed is enormous, which causes the 
destruction of matter. 

“Yet with so low a speed of electrons, electricity 
moves at the speed of radiation along the wire! The 
answer is that some spatial force moves along the wire. 
Relux will conduct that spatial strain also, and without 
resistance. Furthermore, the combination of cosmics 
and magnetic field produces that force in relux. Thus we 
can convert lead directly to cosmics, and cosmics directly 
to electricity. Electricity we can convert to the spatial 
strain in the power coils, and thus the ship is driven.” 
Morey pointed out the huge molecular power cylinder 
overhead, where the main power drive was located in 
the inertial center of the ship, or as near as the great 
space coil would permit. Explaining to him how the 
directed molecules confined in the tank, helium in this 
case, supplied the power when heated, he pointed out the 
matter-destroying apparatus at the end of the cylinder 
where cosmics were thrown on the relux plate which 
alone could stand their destructive power, and con- 
verted by it into pure heat, which the helium molecules 
absorbed, and used to drive the ship. 

The smaller power units for vertical lift, and for 
steering, were in the side walls, hidden under heavy 
walls of relux. 

“The projectors for throwing molecular and cosmic 
rays are on the outside of course. Both of these pro- 
jectors are protected, both against cosmic rays and 
molecular rays. The walls of the ship are made of 
an outer wall of heavy lux metal, a vacuum between, 
and an inner wall of heavy relux. The lux is stronger 
than relux, and is therefore used for an outer shell. 
The inner shell of relux will reflect any dangerous cos- 
mics, and serve to hold the heat in the ship, since a 
perfect reflector is a perfect non-radiator. The vacuum 
wall is to protect the occupants of the ship against any 
undue heat. If we should get within the atmosphere 
of a sun, it would be disastrous if the physical conduc- 
tion of heat were permitted, for though the relux will 
turn out any radiated heat, it is a conductor of heat, 
and we would roast almost instantly. These artificial 
metals are both absolutely infusible and non-volatile. 
The ship has actually been in the limb of a star, and a 
star tremendously hotter than your sun or mine. We 
have made several trips to the sun, actually descending 
into the great sunspots for investigation. Once one 
started to close in over us, and we had to escape into 
artificial space. 

“Now you see why it is we need not fear a collision 
with a small sun, meteor or such like. Since we are in 
our own, artificial space, we are alone, and there is 
nothing in space to run into. But, if we enter a huge 
sun, the terrific gravitational field of the mass of matter 
would be enough to pull the energy of our coil away 
from us. That actually happened the time we made 



our first inter-galactic exploration. But it is almost 
impossible to fall into a large star — they are too bril- 
liant in general, and only in very, very, very rare cases 
are invisible. It was one of those impossibly rare cases 
we struck. We never did succeed in convincing 
astronomers we did. It will be some 50,000,000 years 
before the visual proof reaches Earth. By that time 
we won’t be worrying about it,” grinned Morey. 

“And every second we speak here, we move five light 
years further? Nearly 30,000,000,000,000 miles each 
single second ?” Zezdon Afthen was looking out through 
the small lux window to the strange space about them. 

“That’s about right I think,” replied Morey. 

“But how did the ship we captured operate?” asked 
Zezdon Fentes, who had come in shortly after Morey 
had begun his explanations. 

“It was a very ingenious system, very closely related 
to ours, really. 

“We distort space and change the velocity character- 
istics; in other words, we distort the rate of motion 
through distance characteristics of normal space. The 
Thessian ships work on the principle of distorting the 
rate of progress through time instead of through space. 

“Velocity is really ‘units of travel through space per 
unit of travel through time.’ Now if we make the 
time unit twice as great, and the units traveled through 
space are not changed, the velocity is twice as great. 
That is, if we are moving five light-years per second, 
make the second twice as long and we are moving ten 
light years per double-second. Make it ten thousand 
times as long, and we are traveling fifty thousand light 
years per ten-thousand-seconds. This is the principle — 
but thei'e is a drawback. We might increase the ve- 
locity by slowing time passage, that is, if it takes me a 
year for one heart-beat, two years to raise my arm 
thus, and six months to turn my head, if all my body 
processes ai'e slowed down in this way, I will be able 
to live a tremendous length of time, and though it takes 
me two hundred years to go from one star to another, 
so low is my time rate that the two hundred years will 
seem but a few minutes. I can then make a trip to a 
distant star — one five light years distant let us say, 
in three minutes to me. I then will say, looking at my 
chronometer (which has been similarly slowed) ‘I have 
gone five light years in three minutes, or five thirds 
light years per minute. I have exceeded the speed of 
light.’ 

“But people back on Earth would say, he has taken 
two hundi’ed years to go five light years, therefore he 
has gone at a speed one fortieth of that of light, which 
would be true — for their time rate. 

“But suppose I can also speed up time. That is, I can 
live a year in a minute or two. Then everyone else will 
be exceedingly slow. The ideal thing would be to com- 
bine the.se two effects, arranging that space about your 
ship will have a very rapid time rate, ten thousand 
times that of normal space. Then the speed of radia- 
tion through that space will be 1,860,000,000 miles per 
second, and a speed of 1,000,000,000 miles per second 
would be possible, but still you, too, will be affected, 
so that though the people back home will say you are 
going far faster than light, you will say ‘No, I am going 
only 100,000 miles per second.’ 

“13 UT now imagine that your ship and surrounding 

r> .space for one mile is at a time rate 10,000 times 
normal, and you, in a space of one hundred feet within 
your ship, are affected by a time rate 1/10,000 that, or 
normal, due to a second, reversing field. The two fields 
will not fight, or be mutually antagonistic; they will 
merely compound their effects. Result: you will agree 
that you are exceeding the speed of light! 

“Do you understand? That is the principle' on which 








5(mt»!] 












AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



A my of intense, blinds 










INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



your ship operated. There were two time-fields, over- 
lapping time-fields. Eemember the terrible speed with 
which your ship landed, and yet there was no appre- 
ciable jar according to the men? The answer of course 
was, that their time rate had been speeded enough, due 
to the fact that one field had been completely shut off, 
the other had not. 

“That is the principle. The system is so complex, 
naturally, that we have not yet learned the actual 
method of working the process. We must do a gi’eat 
deal of mathematical and physical research. 

“Wish we had it done — ^we could use it now,” mused 
the Terrestrian. 

“We have some other weapons, none as important, of 
course, as the molecular ray and the cosmic ray. Or 
none that have been. But, if the enemy have ray 
shields, as I am sure they must have, then perhaps 
these others also will be important. There are mole- 
cular motion guns, metal tubes, with molecular director 
apparatus at one end. A metal shell is pulling the 
power turned on, and the shell leaps out at a speed of 
about ten miles per second— since it has been super- 
heated — and is very accurately aimed, as there is no 
terrific shock of recoil to be taken up by the gun. 

“But a more effective weapon, if these men are as I 
expect them to be, will be a peculiarly effective magnetic 
field concentrator device, which will project a magnetic 
field as a beam for a mile or more. How useful it will 
be — I don’t know. See, that tremendously heavy mount- 
ing up there is one of the three beam projectors aboard. 
They are connected with the power coils which permits 
us to build an enormous field in an exceedingly short 
time. An attractive force of as high as fifty thousand 
g* can be created on a piece of soft iron. 

“But — we don’t know what the enemy will turn 
against us?” 

CHAPTER V 
Ortol 

S HORTLY after Morey’s explanation of the ship was 
completed, Wade took Arcot’s place at the controls, 
while Morey and Arcot slept. The day of Ortol 
was close to fifty hours, so that many hours more would 
pass before the Ortolians would be tired. 

When Arcot rose after four hours intensified sleep 
under the new drug, morcon, and Morey a few moments 
later, they retired to the calculating room to do some 
of the needed mathematics on the time-field investiga- 
tion. 

Their work continued here, while the Ortolians pre- 
pared a meal and brought it to them, and to Wade. 
When at last Ortol, and the sun of Ortol was growing 
before them, Arcot took over controls from Wade once 
more. Slowing their speed to less than fifty times that 
of light, they drove on. The attraction of the giant 
sun was draining the energy from the coils so rapidly 
now, that at last Arcot was forced to get into normal 
space, while the planet was still close to a million miles 
from them. Morey was showing the Ortolians the 
operation of the telectroscope and had it trained now 
on the rapidly approaching planet. It was difficult to 
keep it trained on the planet in question as the ship 
moved and turned slightly under the complex attrac- 
tion of planets and sun. But the planet was easily 
enlarged to a point where the features of continents 
were visible. Minutes sped as they neared, and finally, 
wholly within the gravitational field of Ortol, the ship 
steadied. The magnification was increased till cities 
were no longer blurs, but truly cities. 

^The letter indicates the acceleration of gravitation of the earth. It 
is expressed in feet per second or other dimensions, such as centimeters 
per second. 



153 

Suddenly, as city after city was brought under the 
action of the machine, the Ortolians recognizing them 
with glad exclamations, one swept into view— and as 
they watched, it leapt into the air, a vast column of 
dust, then, twisting, whirling, it fell back in utter, 
chaotic ruin, 

“Thestis — my wives — my children — ” Zezdon Fentes 
staggered back from the screen in horror. 

“Arcot— drive down — increase your speed — the Thes- 
sians are there already and have destroyed one city,” 
called Morey sharply. “Hang on Afthen.” Then men 
grasped handholds, while they secured themselves with 
heavy belts, as the deep toned hum of the warning 
echoed through the ship. A moment later they staggered 
under an acceleration of four gravities. Space was dark 
for the barest instant of time, and then there was the 
terrible, screaming hum of atmosphere split as the ship 
rocketed through the air of the planet at nearly fifteen 
hundred miles per second. The outer wall was blazing 
in incandescence in a moment, and the heavy relux 
screens seemed to leap into place over the windows as 
the blasting heat, radiated from the incandescent walls, 
flooded in. The telectroscope was sadly handicapped 
now, for the walls protecting the view-elements were 
white hot. Arcot was controlling the ship by his view 
plates. The space distortion had thrown them to the 
planet, nearly a million miles, in so brief a time that 
the ship had but started to slow under the reserve 
acceleration, and now the millions of tons pressure of 
the air on the nose of the ship would have brought it 
to a stop in an instant, had it not been that the mole- 
cular drive was on at full power, driving the ship 
against the air resistance, and still losing. The ship 
slowed swiftly, but was shrieking toward the destroyed 
city at terrific speed. 

Zezdon Fentes sat in his chair, his chaotic thoughts 
thrown into the surrounding space hindering the 
others. Zezdon Afthen reached over and removed the 
headset from him. 

“Hesthis — to the— right and ahead. That would be 
their next attack,” said the Ortolian. Arcot, catching 
the thought, altered the ship’s course, and they shot 
toward the distant city of Hesthis. They were slowing 
perceptibly, and yet, though the city was half around 
the world, they reached it in half a minute. Now 
Arcot’s wizardry at the controls came into play, for 
by altering his space field constants, he succeeded in 
reaching a condition that slowed the ship almost in- 
stantly to a speed of but a mile a second, yet without 
apparent deceleration. 

High in the white Ortolian sky was a shining point 
bearing down on the now-visible city. Arcot slanted 
toward it, and the approaching ship grew like an ex- 
panding rubber balloon. 

A ray of intense, blindingly brilliant light hashed out, 
and a gout of light appeared in the center of the city. 
A huge flame, bright blue, shot heavenward in roaring 
heat. 

“Cosmic— turn the atoms of the soil into hydrogen, 
and it’s burning,” snapped Morey in re.sponse to 
Afthen’s question. 

Arcot was in action. In an infinitesimal time he had 
slowed the ship to a speed of a few hundred miles per 
hour when it was possible to turn in a reasonable circle. 
The Thessian ship had spotted them, though Arcot had 
tried the , invisibility apparatus, without much hope, 
confessedly. Seeing that a strange ship had arrived 
was enough for the Thessians, and they turned, and 
drove at Arcot instantly. The Thessian ship was built 
for a heavy world, and for heavy accelerations in con- 
sequence, and, as they had found from the captured 
ship, it was infinitely stronger than the indent 
Mariner. Now the Thessians were driving at Arcot 




160 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



with an acceleration and speed that convinced him 
dodging was useless. Suddenly space was black around 
them, the sunlit world was gone. 

“Wonder what they thought of that!” grinned Arcot, 
Wade smiled grimly. 

“It’s not what they thought, but what they’ll do, that 
counts. That, and what we’ll do,” 

Arcot came back to normal space, Just in time to see 
the Thessian ship spin in a quick turn, under an ac- 
celeration that would have crushed a human to a pulp. 
Again the pilot dived at the Terrestrial! ship. Again 
it vanished. Twice more he tried these fruitless tactics, 
seeing the ship loom before him — bracing for the crash 
— then it was gone instantaneously, and though he 
sailed through the spot he knew it to have occupied, 
it was not there. Yet an instant later, as he turned, 
it was floating, unharmed, exactly where his ship had 
passed ! 

Rushing was useless. He stood, and prepared to give 
battle. A molecular ray reached out — and disappeared 
in flaring ions on a shield utterly impenetrable in the 
ionizing atmosphere. 

Arcot meanwhile watched the instrument of his 
shield. The Thessian shield would have been im- 
penetrable, but his shield, fed by less efficient tubes, 
was not, and he knew it. Already the terrific energy 
of the Thessian ray w'as noticeably heating the copper 
plates of the tube. The seal would break soon. 

Another ray reached out, a ray of flaring light. 
Arcot, watching through the “eyes” of his telectroscope 
viewplates, saw it for but an instant, then the “eyes” 
were blasted, and the screen went blank. 

“Trying cosmics. He won’t do anything with that, 
but buxm out eyes,” muttered the Terrestrian. He 
pushed a small button when his instruments told him 
the cosmics were off. Another scanner came into ac- 
tion, and the viewplate was alive again. 

Arcot shot out a cosmic ray himself, and swept the 
Thessian with it thoroughly. For the instant he needed 
the enemy ship was blinded. Immediately the Ancient 
Mariner dove, and the automatic ray-finders could no 
longer hold the rays on his ship. As soon as he was 
out of the deadly molecular ray he shut off his screen, 
and turned on all his molecular rays. The Thessian 
ship, their own ray on, had been unable to put up their 
screen, as Arcot was unable to use his ray with the 
enemy’s ray forcing him to cover with a shield. 

A lmost at once the relux covering of the Thessian 
ship shone with characteristic iridescence as it 
changed swiftly to lux metal. The molecular ray 
blinked out, and a ray screen flashed out instead. The 
Thessians were covering up. Their own rays were use- 
less now. Though Arcot could not hope to destroy their 
ray shield, they could no longer attack his, for their 
rays were useless, and already they had lost so much 
of the protective relux, that they would not be so 
foolhardy as to risk a second attack of the ray. Arcot 
kept one ray on them at low' power. Their screen was 
flaming in ions, for “low” power meant pow'er of the 
order of 10,000 kilo-watts. 

Arcot continued to bathe the ship in cosmics, keep- 
ing their “eyes” closed. As long as he could hold his 
barrage on them, they would not damage him, 

“You’ve got him tied — ^what are you going to do with 
him?” asked Morey, suddenly coming in. “Sort’a got 
the bear by the tail.” 

Arcot didn’t answer. He was busy with switches. 
Finally he answered: “Morey — get into the power 
room, strap onto the board. Throw all the power-coil 
banks into the magnets, I may burn them out, but I 
have hopes — .” Arcot already had the generators going 
full power, charging the power coils. 



Morey dived. Almost simultaneously the Thessians 
succeeded in the manoeuver they had been attempting 
for some time. There were a dozen cosmic rays flaring 
wildly from the ship, searching blindly over the sky 
and ground, hoping to blindly stumble on the enemy 
ship, while their own ship dived and twisted blindly. 
Arcot was busily dodging the sweeping rays, but finally 
one hit his viewplates, and his own ship was blind. In- 
stantly he threw the ray screen out, cutting off his 
own molecular ray. His own cosmics he set rotating in 
cones that covered the three dimensions — save below, 
whei’e the city lay. Immediately the Thessian had re- 
treated to this one segment where Arcot did not dare 
throw his own rays. The Thessian cosmics continued 
to make his relux screens necessary, and his ship re- 
mained blind. 

His ray screen was showing signs of weakening. The 
Thessians got a third ray into position for operation, 
and opened up. Almost at once the tubes heated terrific- 
ally. In an instant they would give way. Arcot threw 
his ship into space, and let the tubes cool under the 
water jacket. Morey reported the coils ready as soon 
as he came out of space. 

The cosmics, in all probability, would not be bathing 
the ship when he came back to noi’mal space, for it is 
utterly impossible for anyone or any machine to locate 
an invisible machine from a swiftly moving ship when 
it is flying in air, with no possible -landmarks near. 
Further, their ship moved somewhat, due to its cen- 
trifugal force about the planet, since it was now cut 
off from the planetary gravity. 

Arcot cut in the new set of eyes, put up his molecular 
ray sci’een again, with the cooling solution once more 
at -37'’ C. Flowing over the tubes. Then he cut the 
energy back to the coils. 

Half a mile below the enemy ship was vainly scurry- 
ing around an empty sky. Wade laughed at the 
strange resemblance to a puppy chasing its tail. The 
Ancient Mariner was utterly lost to them. 

“Well, here goes the last trick,” said Arcot grimly. 
Tf this doesn’t work, they’ll probably win, for their 
tubes are better than ours, and their cosmics are just 
as good, and they can maneuver faster. By win I 
mean force us to let them attack Ortol. They can’t 
really attack us, artificial space is a perfect defense.” 

Arcot’s molecular ray apprized the Thessians of his 
presence once more. Their screen flared up once more. 
Arcot was driving straight toward their ship as they 
turned. He snapped the relux screens in front of his 
eyes an instant before the enemy cosmics reached his 
ship. Immediately the heavy thud of four heavy relays 
rang through the ship. The quarter of a million ton 
ship leaped forward under a terrific acceleration, and 
then, as the four relays cut out again, the acceleration 
was gone. The screen regained life as Arcot opened 
the shutters. Before them, still directly in their path, 
was the huge Thessian ship. But now its screen was 
down, the relux iridescent in decomposition. It was 
falling, helplessly falling to the rocky plateau seven 
miles below. Its cosmic rays reached out even yet — 
and again the Ancient Mariner staggered under the 
terrific pull of some acceleration. The Thessian ship 
lurched upward, and the cosmic ray seemed to explode, 
a terrific concussion came, and the entire neighborhood 
of that projector disappeared in a flash of radiation. 

Arcot drove the Ancient Mariner down beneath the 
Thessian ship in its long fall, and with a powerful mole- 
cular beam ripped a mighty chasm in the deserted 
plateau. The Thessian ship fell into a quarter mile rift 
in the solid rock, smashing its way through falling 
ddbris. A moment later it was buried beneath a quarter 
mile of broken rock as Arcot swept a molecular beam 
about with the grace of a mine foreman filling breaks. 




INYADERS FROM INFINITE 161 



'An instant later and a cosmic ray followed the mole- 
cular in dazzling brilliance. A terrific gout of light 
appeared in the barren rocks. It flared white, and great 
blue flames of burning hydrogen reached up, thick, black 
vapor rolled up to condense in dust of rock in the air. 
In ten minutes the plateau was a white hot cauldron of 
molten rocks, glowing now against a darkening sky. 
Night was falling. 

“That ship,” said Arcot with an air of finality, “.will 
never rise again.” 

CHAPTER VI 
The Second Move 

W ELL the Terrestrians knew, that that ship 
would never rise again, but after it another 
would come, and then more — and more. 

“What happened to him though, Arcot, I haven’t 
yet figured it out. He went down in a heap, and he 
didn’t have any power. Of course, if he had his power 
he could have pulled out again. He could just melt 
that rock again, and rise out of it. Go take a bath in 
the sun, and burn all the excess rock off, and he would 
be all set. The sun wouldn’t bother that lux metal any, 
nor would the molten rock. But his rays all went dead. 
How come? Even his power — and why the explosion?” 
asked Wade, bewildered. 

“The magnetic beam is the answer. Think — in our 
boat we have everything magnetically shielded, because 
of the enormous magnetic flux set up by the current 
flowing from the storage coils to the main coil, so the 
magnetic rays of our iron-boned friends of Nansaland 
Sator didn’t in the least hinder us. But — with so many 
wires heavily charged with current, what would have 
happened if they had not been shielded? 

“If a current cuts across a magnetic field a side thrust 
is developed. What do you suppose happened when the 
terrific magnetic field of the beam and the currents in 
the wires of their power-board were mutually opposed?” 
asked Arcot. 

“Lord, it must have ripped away everything in the 
ship. It’d tear loose even the lighting wires!” gasped 
Wade in amazement. 

“But if all the power of the ship was destroyed in this 
way, how was it that one of their rays was operating 
as they fell?” asked Zezdon Afthen. 

“Each cosmic ray is a power plant in itself,” ex- 
plained Arcot, “and so it was able to function. I do 
not know the cause of the explosion, though it might 
well have been that they had light-bombs such as the 
Kaxorians of Venus have,” he added, thoughtfully.- 
They landed, at Zezdon’s advice, in the city that their 
arrival had been able to save. This was Ortol’s largest 
city, and their industrial capital. Here, too, was the 
University at which Afthen taught. Hesthis was the 
Chicago of Ortol, their largest city, and most important 
industrial city. Chicago’s position had been won by 
its central location with air, land and water facilities 
at hand. It was in the center of the richest continent 
of Earth. 

_ Hesthis was located on a huge river which gave the 
city access to land, river and ocean. Flying was still a 
rudimentary art on Ortol. Their machines were but 
half a century old in their development, and capable 
of little more than six hundred miles per hour at best, 
and their cruising speed was held down to approxi- 
mately three hundred miles. Therefore, the air was not 
as yet important. 

They landed here, and Arcot, Morey and Wade, with 
the aid of Zezdon Afthen and Zezdon Fentes worked 
steadily for two of their days of fifty hours each, 
teaching men how to make and use the molecular ships, 



and the rays and screens, the cosmics, and relux. But 
Arcot promised that when he returned he would have 
some weapon that would bring them certain and easy 
salvation. He said “when,” but his thought came near 
to being “if.” In the meantime other terrestrians 
would follow him. 

They left the morning of their third day on the 
planet. A huge crowd had come to cheer them on their 
way as they left, but it was the “silent cheer” of Ortol, 
a telepathic well-wishing. 

“Now,” said Arcot as their ship left the planet be- 
hind, “we will have to make the next move. It certainly 
looks as though that next move would be to the still- 
unknown race that lives on world 3769-37,478,326,894-6. 
Evidently we will have to have some weapon they 
haven’t, and I think that I know what it will be. Thanks 
to our trip out to the Islands of Space.” 

“Shall we go?” 

“I think it would be wise,” agreed Morey. 

“And I,” said Wade. The Ortolians agreed, and so, 
with the aid of the photographic copies of the Thessian 
charts that Arcot had made, they started for world 
3769-37,478,326,894-6. 

“It will take approximately twenty-two hours, and 
as we have been putting off our sleep with drugs, I 
think that we had better catch up. Wade, I wish you’d 
take the ship again, while Morey and I do a little con- 
centrated sleeping. We have by no means finished that 
calculation, and I’d very much like to. We’ll relieve 
you in five hours.” 

Wade took the ship, and following the course Arcot 
laid out, they sped through the void at the greatest 
safe speed. Wade had only to watch the view-screen 
carefully, and if a star showed as growing rapidly, 
it was proof that they were near, and nearing rapidly. 
If large, a touch of a switch, and they dodged to one 
side, if small, they were suddenly plunged into an 
instant of unbelievable radiation as they swept through 
it, in a different space, yet linked to it by radiation, 
not light, that were permitted in. 

“How is it,” he asked of Zezdon Afthen who had 
elected to stay with him, “that Zezdon Fentes so 
quickly forgot his loss?” The promptness with which 
Zezdon Fentes had put behind him the loss of hia 
family had been rather a disappointment to the ter- 
restrian. The canines are an affectionate and faithful 
race, and that one could be so apparently forgetful 
rather piqued Wade, as it did the other terrestrians. 

“That, my friend, is a thing that has evidently rather 
bothered you of Earth. Affection we have, you know: 
it as a characteristic of our race — affection and loyalty. 

“But you know of lower members of our race, dogs, 
who have lain starving on their masters’ graves. Af- 
fection — uselessly and senselessly applied. Is it not 
equally useless and senseless to mourn for the dead 
wife or the dead children when we reach a higher stage? 
To forget them — that would be insulting to their mem- 
ory. But to mourn them with useless, senseless loss of 
health and balance is also insulting, not only to their 
memory, but to the race. 

“No, we have a better way. Fentes, my very good 
friend, has not forgotten, nor have you forgotten the 
death of your mother, whom you loved. But you no 
longer mourn her death with a fear and horror of that 
natural thing, the Eternal Sleep. Time has softened 
the pain. 

“If we can do the same in five minutes instead of 
five years, is it not better? That is why Fentes haa 
forgotten.” 

“Then you have aged his memory of that event?’* 
asked Wade in surprise. 

“That is one way of stating it,” replied Zezdon 
Aften seriously. 




162 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“But you spoke of his wives. Your customs are 
polygamous?” 

“It was a custom given us by the Ancient Masters. 
Always we attempt to improve our race. On our 
world we have neither prison nor police force. We have 
no criminals. We waste no foolish sympathy and we 
divert no productive energy to caring for the defects 
nature puts among us — the mistakes Nature inflicts on 
us. 

“If we have a criminal, a murderer, one who becomes 
insane, it shows an inherent weakness. Certainly we 
W'ant none such in our world. He is removed, painlessly, 
and the minds of all who knew him, or loved him, are 
aged, as you put it. His children, if he has any, may 
not propagate. His parents, if they are still young may 
not propagate further. It probably seems cruel to you, 
to whom the right to reproduce is inviolate — but you 
were evolved in a hap-hazard accidental manner by 
Nature. We were a scientiflcally evolved race, such 
an imposed breeding of our own stock seems but natural 
and right to us. 

“Similarly, at the high end, the best of our men are 
permitted two or more wives, the wives being selected 
as most suited to them, in every way physically and 
mentally their equals. It improves our race. With 
astounding rapidity we are advancing. We have bred 
solely for psychic powers I fear, and the result has been 
a rather poor showing for our race in mechanical and 
physical scientific lines. But we are correcting our 
mistake. 

“So Zezdon Fentes, as the first Student of Thought, 
had five wives. He had seventeen children I believe. 
It was a great loss to him, and to our world, for all 
of the women were very brilliant students of Physics. 
It is not the last of these losses, nor the only one, I 
fear.” 

“I am afraid I will have to agree with you,” said 
Wade sorrowfully. 

“T)UT tell me,” he asked curiously, “if such a system 
‘ JJ of artificial marriages is satisfactory. Are not 
the parties to such an agreement frequently mutually 
distasteful ?” 

“Oh, that problem was easily solved. For instance, 
my first wife was but seventeen — ^twenty-one of your 
years old — ^when I married her, and she was very much 
in love with a young man of Art. He was a genuine 
genius, and has since been given three wives, yet my 
wife, with her ability in the natural sciences, was cer- 
tainly far more valuable to our race if mated with some 
one of similar taste and temperament. Therefore her 
love for the artist was blanked, and aged, then a feeling 
of the obvious unfitness of the thing was impressed upon 
her mind. Then, both her mind and mine were made 
to conform for domestic happiness, -without our know- 
ing for whom we were being fitted. Doubtless the 
‘chance’ meeting that brought us together first was 
arranged.” He smiled whimsically. 

“A most wonderful woman she is, and she has al- 
ways been my ideal. At that,” he smiled, “it may be 
that it was at that impressioning that her picture was 
given to my hand. I do not know. And why worry, 
we seek only happiness in this world, and if happiness 
is found with her, as it is, why worry if it is at the 
will of another? If another has made me love her — 
what matter? I love her as truly as any man of your 
world may love the woman of his choice. The love 
may have been induced — but it is love we seek, not its 
reason. 

“But with the other wives, it is always a great 
problem. Out of fairness, the love for the first -wife 
is always made the deepest, yet for each there is a 
great and sincere love. It is a thing natural to our 



inheritance and I know my wives never have the jealous 
quarrels I see your mind pictures,” he finished with a 
smile. 

“It isn’t safe thinking things around you,” laughed 
Wade. “Just the same, all of this has made me even 
more interested in the ‘Ancient Masters’ to whom you 
so frequently refer. Who were they?” 

“The Ancient Ones,” began Zezdon Afthen slowly, 
“were men such as you are. They, too, descended from 
a primeval arboreal omnivorous mammalian, an animal 
very closely related to your race. Evidently the ten- 
dency of evolution on any planet is approximately the 
same with given conditions. 

“The race existed as a distinct branch of what you 
call the primate family for approximately 1,500,000 
of your years before any noticeable culture was de- 
veloped. Then it existed for a total of 1,526,000 years 
before extinction. With culture and learning they de- 
veloped such marvelous means of killing themselves 
that in twenty-five thousand years they succeeded per- 
fectly,” he said ironically. Ten thousand years of bar- 
baric culture — I need not relate it to you, five thousand 
years of the medieval culture, then five thousand years 
of true culture, true civilization. They developed 
science, they learned to harness nature. 

“They learned to fly through space very shortly after, 
and nearly populated three worlds; two were fully 
populated, one was still under colonization when the 
great war broke out. It started over a silly thing. So 
wise as the Ancient Ones were — it seems impossible. 
It actually started because one man’s hand slipped — . 
one minor official of a large transportation company. 
One transport going from Ortol to Selto was nearing 
another coming from the colony on Thenton. The colony 
was a settlement of Selto. The Ortolian ship was draw- 
ing past the slightly slower moving Thentian ship. 
Then — a meteor appeared. The Ortolian pilot saw it, 
turned to avoid it. The Thentian pilot was but re- 
cently inangurated as a licensed pilot. He was nervous 
in juxta-position to the swiftly moving mass of the 
other ship, and at the sudden movement he pushed the 
wrong control — and some few escaped in the life tanks. 
Guard ships picked them up. 

“An interplanetary situation developed. Selto blamed 
Ortol for the destruction of their ship and the loss of 
many lives. Ortol, willing to admit that no one was to 
blame at first, now decried the Thentian pilot. 

“So it started. An interplanetary war is not a long 
drawn out struggle. The science of any people so far 
advanced as to have interplanetary lines is too far 
developed to permit any long duration of war. Selto 
declared war, and made the first move. They attacked, 
and destroyed the largest city of Ortol of that time. 
Ortolian ships drove them off, and in turn attacked 
Selto’s largest city. Twenty million intelligencies, 
twenty million lives, each with its aims, its hopes, its 
loves and its strivings — gone in four days. 

“The war continued to get more and more hateful, 
till it became evident that neither side would be paci- 
fied till the other was totally subjugated. So each laid 
his plans, and laid them to wipe out the entire world of 
the other. 

“Selto sent a ship, a tiny scout plane, and it headed 
toward one of the great camps where the last of Orto- 
lians were staying. Ortolian ships attacked it, and the 
pilot, diving to escape their attack, crashed blindly into 
a mountainside. A soft explosion blew the ship to 
pieces and scattered it broadside. I say soft, because 
it was not a sharp, true explosion, but more the sudden 
X’elease of pressure, such as an exploding tank would 
give. But Ortol had succeeded in destroying the ship, 
whatever its foolhardy mission, and in the meantime 
their own scientists were busy. They had constructed 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 163 



a ray machine, a huge projector, powerful enough to 
send its beam to the distant planet, Selto, then less 
than 72,000,000 of your miles away. It was a ray of 
light that made things not happen,” explained Zezdon 
Afthen, his confused thoughts clearly indicating his 
own uncertainty. 

“ ‘A ray of light that made things not happen,’ ” re- 
peated Wade curiously. “A ray, which prevented 
things, vliich caused processes to stop — The Negrian 
Death Ray!” he exclaimed as he suddenly recognized, 
in this crude and garbled description of its powers, the 
Negrian ray of anti-catalysis, a ray which tended to 
stop the processes of life’s chemistry and bring instant, 
painless death. 

‘‘Ah, you know it, too?” asked the Ortolian eagerly. 
“Then you will understand what happened. The ray 
was turned first on Selto, and as the whirling planet 
spun under it, every square foot of it was wiped clean 
of every living thing, from gigantic Welsthan to micro- 
scopic Ascoptel, and every man, woman and child was 
killed, painlessly, but instantly. 

“Then Thenten spun under it, and all were killed, 
but many who had fled the planets were still safe — 
many? — a few thousand. 

“^r'HE day that Thenten spun under that ray, men 
. X of Ortol began to complain of disease — men by the 
thousands, hundreds of thousands. Every man, every 
woman, every child was afflicted in some way. The 
diseases did not seem all the same. Some seemingly 
died of a disease of the lungs, some went insane, some 
were paralyzed, and lay helplessly inactive. But most 
of them were afflicted by a terrible, loathsome disease, 
and they died like flies, for it was exceedingly virulent, 
and the normal serums were helpless. So swift was its 
work, no new serums could be made in time. 

“Communication was established with the few Sel- 
tonians, and now all realized the terrible thing they had 
done. The Seltonians expressed their willingness to 
aid in any way they could, and told the Ortolians how 
to make the serums. But before any quantity was 
made, nearly all the population, all but a slender rem- 
nant had died, either of starvation through paralysis, 
none being left to care for them, or from the disease 
itself, while thousands who had gone mad were pain- 
lessly killed. 

“The Seltonians came to Ortol, and the remaining 
Ortolians, with their aid, tried to rebuild the civiliza- 
tion. But what a sorry thing! The cities were gigan- 
tic, stinking, plague-ridden morgues. And the plague 
broke among those few remaining people. The Orto- 
lians had done everything in their power with the ser- 
ums — but too late. The Seltonians had been protected 
with it on landing — but even that was not enough. 
Again the wild fires of that loathsome disease broke 
out. 

“Since first those men had developed from their hairy 
forbears, they had found their eternal friends were the 
dogs, and to them they turned in their last extremity, 
breeding them for intelligence, hairlessness, and re- 
semblance to themselves. The Deathless ones alone 
remained after three generations of my people, but with 
the aid of certain rays, the rays capable of penetrating 
lead for a short distance, and most other substances for 
considerable distances.” X-rays, thought Wade. “Great 
changes had been wrought. Already they had developed 
startling intelligence, and were able to understand the 
scheme of their Masters. Their feet and hands were 
being modified rapidly, and their vocal apparatus was 
changing. Their jaws shortened, their chins developed, 
the nose retreated. 

“Generation after generation the process went on, 
yrhile the Deathless Ancient Ones worked with their 



helpers, for soon my race was a real helping organiza- 
tion. 

“But it was done. The successful arousing of true 
love-emotion followed, and the unhappy days were gone. 
Quickly development followed. In five thousand years 
the new race had outstripped the Ancient Masters, and 
they passed, voluntarily, willingly joining in oblivion 
the millions who had died before. 

"Can you appreciate their loneliness. Earth Man? 
Can you picture the thousands of long, bleak years with 
their race dead, knowing that for all eternity they 
could never live again? That only through our race 
could they leave their mark? Five thousand long years 
of work, solitary hopeless work, longing always to join ’ 
those who had long since gone, the friends, the rela- 
tions, wives, mothers, sweethearts, whose memory alone 
was with them for those long, long, blank years? When 
their hearts eternally cried, ‘No hope. There is no 
hope. Hope is dead. Let us die too. Let us join those 
who have perished in eternal, restful oblivion. Why 
this mad, long straining, when there can be only death. 
Why live? Join the multitude of your own in Death’s 
gentle arms.’ But at last they died, and were at peace. 

“Since then our own race has risen, it has been but 
a short thousand years, a thousand years of work, and 
hope, and continuous improvement for us, continual ac- 
complishment on which we can look, and a living hope 
to which we could look with raised heads, and smiling 
faces. 

“Then our hope died, as this menace came. Do you 
see what you and your world was meant to us, Man of 
Earth?” Zezdon Afthen raised his dark eyes to the 
terrestrian with a look in their depths that made Wade 
involuntarily resolve that Thet and all Thessians should 
be promptly consigned to that limbo of forgotten things 
where they belonged. 

CHAPTER VII 

World 3769-37,478,326,894.6, Talso 

W ADE sat staring moodily at the screen for some 
time, while Zezdon Afthen, sunk in his own rev- 
eries, continued in thought. Suddenly Wade 
looked again toward Afthen, and asked, “But you have 
not told me how your mental machines operate; what is 
the secret?” 

“It is not a secret to Earth, save in that they have 
not learned to use that knowledge. I see that your 
world learned many, many years ago — I cannot read 
the date in your mind — but they learned that all living 
things are radioactive. 

“Oh. — they learned that about 1930, didn’t they!” 
exclaimed Wade, “And we never thought to investigate 
it, I guess.” 

“We did,” continued Zezdon Afthen, “when it was 
discovered, and we learned a great deal from it. The 
radioactivity seemed to have some marked connection 
with the life processes. 

“Study showed that it was intimately connected with 
the more typically nervous organisms. It seemed to 
be connected with the nervous impulse in some way. 
It was particularly evident in the higher animals, and 
with suitable instruments we began to find means of 
measuring rapid fluctuations, even getting oscillograph 
readings, showing the frequency. That gave us a lead, 
and from that basis, knowing the approximate fre- 
quency of mental impulses, we were able to design 
apparatus which could tune to such frequencies. Re- 
member, the radioactive rays were merely the carrier 
waves, or, still better, the mere signals. The tube glows 
brighter when more power passes through it, though the 
light given off has no necessity of being, is of no use. 
So the radioactivity seemed but an accidental accom- 



164 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



paniment of the real wave impulses. It may be that 
our own bodies had solved the secret of atomic energy, 
while we could not. Knowing what to tune for, we 
succeeded, in this apparatus we are wearing, to both 
catch and intensify it. 

“Our race was too highly psychic, and too little me- 
chanically ^^ious. We learned too little of the world 
about, andtoo much of our own processes. We are a 
peaceful race, for, while you and the Ancient Masters 
learned the rule of existence in a world of strife, where 
only the fittest, the best fighters survived, we learned 
life in a carefully tended world, where the Ancient 
Masters taught us to live, where the one whose social 
instincts were best developed, where he who would most 
help the others, and the race, was permitted to live. 
Is it not natural that our race will not fight among 
themselves? The natural instincts that the dog of old 
had, has been weeded out. We are careful to suppress 
tendencies toward criminality and struggle. The crim- 
inal and the maniac, or those who are permanently in- 
curable as determined by careful examination, are ‘re- 
moved’ as the Leaders put it. Lethal gas.” It was 
evident that Afthen did not greatly like this custom — 
but realized it was best. 

“At any rate, we know so pitiably little of natural 
science. We were hopelessly helpless against an attack- 
ing science.” 

“I promise you, Afthen, that if Earth survives, Ortol 
shall survive, for we have given you all the weapons we 
know of, and we will give your people all the weapons 
we shall learn of.” Morey spoke from the doorway. 
Arcot was directly behind him. 

They talked for a short while, then Wade retired for 
some needed sleep, while Morey and Arcot started 
further work on the time fields. 

Hour after hour the ship sped on through the dark 
of space, weirdly distorted, glowing spots of light be- 
fore them, wheeling suns that moved and flashed as 
their awesome speed whirled them on. 

They had to move slower soon, as the changing stars 
showed them near the space-marks of certain locating 
suns. Finally, as they hung motionless, barely moving, 
motionless to the quintillions of miles-distant suns, 
though still moving close to fifteen thousand miles per 
second, they saw the sun they knew was sun 3769-37,- 
478,326,894. It is now but a tiny spot of light in a tiny, 
distant constellation, but a ten-minute journey at the 
space speed brought them within the field of the gigan- 
tic star, twice as large as our sun, two and a half times 
as massive and twenty-six times as brilliant. 

Thirteen major planets they counted as they searched 
the system with their powerful telectroscope, the outer- 
most more than ten billion miles from the parent sun, 
while planet six, the one indicated by the world number, 
was at a distance of five hundred million miles, nearly 
as far from the sun as Jupiter is from ours, yet the 
giant sun, giving more than twenty-five times as much 
heat and light in the blue-white range, heated the 
planet to approximately the same temperature Earth 
enjoys. Spectroscopy showed that the atmosphere was 
well supplied with oxygen, and so the inhabitants were 
evidently oxygen-breathing men, unlike those of the 
Negrian people who lived in an atmosphere of hydro- 
gen. 

Arcot threw the ship toward the planet, and as it 
loomed swiftly larger, he shut off the space-control, and 
set the coils for full charge, while the ship entered 
the planet’s atmosphere in a screaming dive, still at 
a speed of better than a hundred miles a second. 
But this speed was quickly damped as the ship shot 
high over broad oceans to the dull green of land ahead 
in the daylit zone. Observations made from various 
distances by means of the space-control, thus going 



back in time, showed that the planet had a day of 
approximately forty hours, the diameter was nearly 
nine thousand miles, which would probably mean an 
inconveniently high gravity for the terrestrians and a 
distressingly high gravity for the Ortolians, used to 
their world even smaller than Earth, with scarcely 80 
per cent, of Earth’s gravity. 

At the speed they were now traveling, however, the 
centrifugal force was more than enough to support 
them, and they could not judge. Wade made some 
volumetric analysis of the atmosphere, and with the 
aid of a mouse, pronounced it “Q.A.R.” (quite all 
right) for human beings. It had not killed the mouse, 
so probably humans would find it quite all right. 

“We’ll land at the first city that comes into view, 
and Afthen, you will be delegated as the spokesman, for 
you have a very considerable ability with the mental 
communication, and have a better understanding of 
the physics we need to explain than has Zezdon Fentes,” 
suggested Arcot. They were now over land, a rocky 
coast that shot behind them as great jagged mountains, 
tipped with snow, rose beneath. The ship was traveling 
at a bare mile a second now, and the gravity of the 
planet was noticeable. 

■ Suddenly, as a deep, long valley was under them, a 
shining apparition appeared from behind one of the 
neighboring hills, and drove down at them with an 
unearthly acceleration. Arcot moved just enough to 
dodge the blow, and turned to meet the ship. Instantly, 
now that he had a good view of it, he was certain it 
was a Thessian ship. Waiting no longer to determine 
that it was not a ship of this world, he shot a molecular 
beam at it. The beam exploded into a coruscating 
panoply of pyrotechnics on the Thessian shield. The 
Thessian replied with all his cosmics, and all other 
beams he had available, including a straight low-fre- 
quency heat-beam, an induction-beam, an intensely bril- 
liant light-beam, and several molecular cannon with 
shells loaded with an explosive that was very evidently 
condensed light. This was no exploration ship, but a 
full-fiedged battle-ship. 

The Ancient Mariner was blinded instantly, though 
Arcot had the relux screens up. None of the occupants 
were hurt, but the combined pressure of the various 
beams hurled the ship to one side for all its tremendous 
mass. The induction beam alone was dangerous. It 
passed through the outer lux-metal wall unhindered, and 
the perfectly conducting relux wall absorbed it, and 
turned it into power. At once, all the metal objects 
in the ship began to heat up with terrific rapidity. 
Since there were no metallic conductors on the ship, 
no damage was done, save to the pans and tableware 
that happened to be in contact with relux walls. 

Arcot immediately hid behind his perfect shield — ■ 
the space-distortion. 

“That’s no mild dose, I must say,” ha said in a tense 
voice, working rapidly to restore the destroyed “eyes.” 
“He’s a real-for-sure battleship. Notice how that pilot 
dived, a lot more vigorously than the fellow on Ortol 
did. Better get down in the power room, Morey.” 

I N a few moments the ship was ready again. Open- 
ing the shield somewhat, Arcot was able to de- 
termine that no rays were being played on it, for no 
energy fields were disclosed as distorting the opened 
field, other than the field of the sun and planet. 

Arcot opened it. The battleship was searching vainly 
and wildly about the mountains, and was now some 
miles distant. His last view of Arcot’s ship had been 
a suddenly contracting ship, one that vanished in in- 
finite distance, the infinite distance of another space, 
though he did not know it, ' 

Arcot turned three powerful cosmics on the Thessian 




INVADERS FROM JHE INFINITE 



ship, and drove down toward it, accompanying the 
cosmics with molecular rays. The Thessian shield 
stopped the moleculars, but the cosmics had already 
destroyed the eyes of the ship. But by some system of 
magnetic or electrostatic locating devices, the enemy 
guns and rays replied, and so successfully that Arcot 
was again blinded. 

He had again been driving in a line straight toward 
the enemy, and now he threw in the entire power of 
his huge magnetic field-rays. The enemy cosmics 
snapped off. The induction ray disappeared, the heat, 
light and cannons stopped. 

“Worked again,” grinned Arcot. A new set of eyes 
was inserted automatically, and the screen again 
lighted. The Thessian ship was spinning end over end 
toward the ground. It landed with a tremendous crash. 
Simultaneously from the rear of the Ancient Mariner 
came a terrific crash, an explosion that drove the ter- 
restrian ship forward, as though a giant hand had 
pushed it from behind. 

The Ancient Mariner spun like a top, facing the direc- 
tion of the explosion, though still traveling in the 
direction it had been pursuing, but backward now. Be- 
hind them the air was a gigantic pool of ionization. 
Tremendous fragments of what obviously had been 
a ship were drifting down, turning end over end. 

And those fragments of the wall showed them / 

to be fully four feet of solid relux. 

“Enemy got up behind somehow while ^ 

the eyes were out, and was ready to ^’’^4 
raise merry hell. Somebody blew ^ 

them up beautifully. Look at the 



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166 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



ground down there — it’s red hot. That’s from the radi- 
ated heat of our recent encounter. Cosmics reflected, 
heat rays reflected, light bombs turned oif, heat escap- 
ing from ions — nice little workout — and it didn’t seri- 
ously bother our defenses of two-inch relux. Now tell 
me: what will blow up four-foot relux?” asked Arcot 
looking at the fragments. “It seems to me those 
fellows don’t need any help from us ; they may decline 
it with thanks. They wrecked that boat so quickly, 
we didn’t even see it go.” 

“But they may be willing to help us, Man of Earth,” 
replied Afthen,” and we certainly need such help.” 

“I didn’t expect to come out alive from that battleship 
there. It was luck. If they knew what we had, they 
could insulate against it in an hour,” added Arcot. 

“Let’s finish those fellows over there — look!” From 
the wreck of the ship they had downed, a stream of 
men in glistening relux suits were filing. Any men 
comparable to humans would have been killed by the 
fall, but not Thessians. They carried peculiar ma- 
chines, and as they drove out of the ship in a dive that 
looked as though they had been shot from a cannon, 
they turned and landed on the ground and proceeded to 
jump back, leaping at a sped that was bewildering, 
seemingly impossible in any living creature. Yet they 
did it. 

Another group of men came out with more machines. 
They busied themselves quickly, setting them up. It 
took leas than thirty seconds, and they had a large 
relux disc laid under the entire group and the machines. 
Arcot turned a molecular ray down. The rock and 
soil shot up all about them, even the ship shot up, to 
fall back into the great pit its ray had formed. But the 
ionization told of the ray shield over the little group 
of men. A cosmic reached down, while the men still 
frantically worked at their stubby projectors. The 
relux disc now showed its purpose. In an instant the 
soil about them was white hot, bubbling molten lava, 
huge blue hydrogen flames springing high from it. It 
was liquid, boiling furiously. But the deep relux disc 
simply floated on it. The enemy ship began sinking, 
and in a moment had fallen almost completely beneath 
the white hot rock. 

A fountain of the melted lava sprung up, and under 
Arcot’s skilful direction, fell in a cloud of molten rock on 
the men working. The suits protected, and the white 
hot stuff simply rolled off. But it was sinking their 
boat. Arcot continued hopefully. 

A blazing cosmic reached out, and snapped out the 
eyes of the ship as they finished their work on one 
machine. Meanwhile a signaling machine was fran- 
tically calling for help and sending out information of 
their plight and position, and, most deadly to the ter- 
restrians, the attack that had grounded them. 

Then all was instantly wiped out in a single terrific 
jolt of the magnetic beam. The machines jumped a 
little, despite their weight, and the ray shield appara- 
tus slumped suddenly in blazing white heat, the interior 
mechanism fused. But the men were still active, and 
rapidly spreading from the spot, each protected by a 
ray shield pack. 

A brilliant stab of molecular ray shot at each from 
either of two of the Ancient Mariner’s projectors as 
Morey aided Arcot. Their little packs flared brilliantly 
for an instant under the thousands of horsepower of 
energy lashing at the screen, then flashed away, and 
the opalescent relux yielded a moment later, and the 
figure went twisting, hurtling away. Meanwhile Wade 
was busy with the magnetic apparatus, destroying 
shield after shield, which either Arcot or Morey picked 
off. The fall from even so much as half a mile seemed 
not sufficient to seriously bother these super-men, for 
an instant later they would be up tearing away in 



great leaps on their own power as their molecular suits, 
blown out by the magnetic field, failed them. 

It was but a matter of minutes before the last had 
been chased down either by the rays or the ship. Then, 
circling back, Arcot slowly settled beside the enemy, 
ship, that one still in fair repair, the shattered frag- 
ments of the one which simply disappeared in a burst 
of heat could not be called a ship. 

“Wait,” called Arcot sharply as Morey started for 
the door. “Don’t go out yet. The friends who wrecked 
that little sweetheart who crept up behind will probably 
show up. Wait and see what happens.” Hardly had he 
spoken, when a strange apparition rose from behind a 
rock scarcely a quarter of a mile away. Immediately 
Arcot intensified the vision screen covering him. He 
seemed to leap near. There was one man, and he held 
what was obviously a sword by the blade, above his 
head, waving it from side to side. 

“There they are — whatever they are. Intelligent all 
right — what more universally obvious peace sign than 
a primitive weapon such as a knife held in reverse 
position? You go, Morey, or I will, with Zezdon Afthen. 
Try holding a carving knife by the blade. We don’t 
carry swords.” 

Morey grinned as he got into his power suit, on 
Wade’s O.K. of the atmosphere. “They may mistake 
me for the cook out looking for dinner,” he pointed 
out with a long face, “and I wouldn’t risk my dignity 
that way. I’ll take the base-ball bat and hold it wrong 
way round instead.” 

Nevertheless, as he stepped from the ship, with 
Afthen close behind, he held the long knife by the blade, 
and Aften, very awkwardly operating his still rather 
unfamiliar power suit, followed with the reversed bat. 
“It seems that you have picked a weapon still more 
primitive than the knife, but, unfortunately, a club 
works very well either way round,” remarked Afthen 
smilingly. 

Into the intensely blue sun-light the men stepped. 
Their skin and clothing took on a peculiar tint under the 
strange sunlight. The effect was far less pronounced 
than that of the mercury ion, or mercury vapor lamp, 
but noticeably distorted colors. 

The single stranger was joined by a second, also 
holding a reversed weapon, and together they threw 
them down. Morey and Zezdon Afthen followed suit. 
The two parties advanced toward each other. Morey 
could tell from Zezdon Afthen’s thoughts that this oc- 
casion was decidedly impressive to him, for it was the 
second time in the history of their world that one of 
their men had landed on the planet of another system. 

The strangers advanced with a swift, light step, 
jumping from rock to rock, while Morey and Afthen flew 
part way toward them. The men of this world were 
totally unlike any intelligent race Morey had conceived 
of. Their head and brain case was so small as to be 
almost animalish. The nose was small and well formed, 
the ears more or less cupshaped with a remarkable and, 
to terrestrians, almost comical power of motion. Their 
eyes were large, dark brown spots in tiny faces, seem- 
ingly huge, but probably no larger than a Terrestrian’s 
or those of an Ortolian, though in the tiny head they 
were necessarily closely placed, protected by heavy 
boney ridges that actually projected from the skull to 
enclose them. Tiny, childlike chins completed the head, 
running down to a thin, apparently scrawny neck, 
though no doubt quite large enough in relation to the 
head. 

They were short, scarcely five feet, yet evidently of 
tremendous strength for their short, heavy arms, the 
muscle bulging plainly under the tight rubber-like 
composition garments, and the short legs whose stocky, 
girth proclaimed equal strength were members of a 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



167 



body in keeping with them. The deep, broad chest, 
wide, square shoulders, heavy broad hips, combined 
with the tiny head seemed to indicate a perfect incar- 
nation of brainless, brute strength. 

“Strangers from another planet, enemies of our ene- 
mies, you must be our friends. What brings you here 
at this time of troubles?” The thoughts came clearly 
and forcefully from the stocky individual before them, 
belying his apparent lack of mental organization. 

“We seek to aid, and to find aid. The enemy that 
attacks you, attacks us. We are not of the same planet, 
nor is he who stands beside me of my planet. The 
menace that you face, attacks not alone your world, 
nor your system, but all this star cluster,” replied Zez- 
don Afthen steadily. 

The stranger stood, thoughtful, a moment. At last 
he shook his head with an evident expression of hope- 
lessness in the diminutive features. “The menace is 
even greater than we feared. We cannot help you. It 
was just fortune that permitted us to have our weapon 
in workable condition at the time your ship was at- 
tacked. It will be a day before the machine will again 
be capable of successful operation. When in condition 
for use, it is invincible, but — one blow in thirty hours — 
[{Hours was the natural interpretation for Morey, as 
the thought was “twenty of the time units into twenty- 
four of which a day is divided,” and their day was 
forty hours) so you can see we are not of great aid,” 
he shrugged. 

How hopeless was their position! An enemy with 
evident resources of tremendous power, deadly, un- 
known rays that wiped out entire cities with a single 
brief sweep — and no defense save this single weapon, 
good but once a day! Morey could read the utter 
despair of the man. 

“What is the difficulty?” askey Morey eagerly. 

“Power,” exploded the man. “Power-, lack of power. 
The utter necessity of war-power, electric power — there 
is practically none. Our cities are going without power, 
factories are shut down, while every electric generator 
on the planet is pouring its output into the accumu- 
lators that work these damnable, hopeless things. In- 
yincible with power — helpless without.” 

“Ah!” Morey’s face shone with delight — invincible 
weapon — ^with power. And the Ancient Mariner could 
generate unthinkable power. Perhaps enough. 

“What power source do you use — how do you gen- 
erate your power?” The fact of mental telepathy was 
now a thing so familiar to Morey that he scarcely real- 
ized he was not speaking aloud. 

“Combining oxidizing agent with reducing agent re- 
leases heat. Heat used to boil the liquid metal (mer- 
cury, of course, thought Morey), and the vapor runs 
turbines. Condensers boil hydrogen oxide, this used to 
drive other turbines, and ” 

“We can give you power. What wattage have you 
available?” Only Morey’s thoughts had to translate 
“watts” to “How many man-weights can you lift 
through your height per time interval, equal to this.” 
He gave the man some impression of a second, by 
counting. The man figured rapidly. His answer indi- 
cated that approximately a total of two billion kilo- 
watts were available. 

“Then the weapon is invincible hereafter, if what 
you say is true, provided your apparatus is good for a 
thousand times that load in so far as transportation of 
power goes. Our ship alone can easily generate ten 
thousand times that power. 

“Come, get in the ship, accompany us to your largest 
city, or the capital.” 

The men turned, and retreated to their position be- 
hind the rocks, while Morey and Zezdon Afthen waited 
for them. Soon they returned, and entered the ship. 



“Our world,” explained the leader rapidly, “is a sin- 
gle unified colony. The capital is ‘Shesto,’ our world 
we call ‘Talso.’ ” His directions were explicit, and 
Arcot started for Shesto, on Talso. 

CHAPTEE VIII 

Undefeatable or Uncontrollable? 

F ifteen minutes after they started, they came to 
Shesto. They were forced to land, and explain, 
for their relux ship was decidedly not the popular 
Talsonian idea of a life-saver. Three cities had been 
destroyed in the day and half the Thessian forces had 
been here. The people had scattered to the country for 
the most part, where less concentration made Talso 
less vulnerable. 

Shesto was defended by two of the machines, what- 
ever they were, and each machine had been equipped 
with two fully charged accumulators. Their four possi- 
ble shots were hoped to be sufficient protection, and, so 
far, had been. The city had been attacked twice, ac- 
cording to Tho Stan Drel, the Talsonian who had con- 
ducted them hither. Once by a single ship which had 
been instantly destroyed, and once by a fleet of six 
ships. The interval had permitted time to recharge, in 
part, the discharged accumulator, and the fleet had been 
badly treated. Of the six ships, four had been brought 
down in rapid succession, for it was decided to throw 
all on one chance of making the Thessians retreat in 
fear. It had worked, and the remaining two ships had 
fled. 

That was on the previous evening. When the first city 
had been wiped out, with a loss of life well in the hun- 
dreds of thousands, the other cities had, to the limit of 
their abilities set up the protective apparatus. Two 
cities were destroyed since. Apparently the Thessians 
were holding off for the present. 

They landed at Shesto, after Tho Stan Drel had suc- 
ceeded in getting in touch with military authorities and 
secured guarantee of safe passage into the city. 

“In a way,” said Morey seriously as the Talsonian 
returned, “it was distinctly fortunate that we were 
attacked almost at once. Their instantaneous system of 
destruction would have worked for the one shot needed 
to send the Ancient Mariner to eternal blazes.” He 
laughed, but it was a slightly nervous laugh as he 
thought of the consequences of going directly to some 
city with their ship, obviously a space ship, and ob- 
viously of design similar to that of the Thessian ships. 

The Terrestrial ship landed in a great grassy court, 
and out of respect for the parklike smoothness of the 
turf, Arcot left the ship on its power units, suspended 
a bit above the surface. Then he, Morey and the Tal- 
sonian left the ship, Zezdon Afthen was left with the 
ship and with Wade in charge, for if some difficulties 
were encountered, Wade would be able to help them 
with the ship, and Zezdon Afthen with the tremendous 
power of his thought locating apparatus, was busy seek- 
ing out the Thessian stronghold, as yet undetermined. 
He was using the thought of the “magnetic beam” as a 
clue in searching for them, for only their own party and 
the Thessians could know of it on this world. The send- 
ing apparatus which the survivors of the wrecked ship 
had set up had, without doubt, sent that important news 
to the base. 

A party of men of Talso, their tiny heads and power- 
ful, heavy bodies clothed in uniforms, met the Ter- 
restrians outside the ship. 

“Welcome, Men of another world, and to you go our 
thanks for the destruction of one of our enemies.” The 
clear thoughts of the spokesman evinced his ability to 
concentrate. 




168 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“And to your world must go our thanks for the sav- 
ing of our lives, and more important, our ship. For the 
ship represents a thing of enormous value to our world. 
And, we think, to this entire star-system,” replied 
Arcot. 

“We, as the military authorities, have met you, but 
unlike the military authorities of years past, we are 
ready to recognize that this is not a war of men, but a 
war of knowledge of Nature and her works. We have 
learned only the handling of men, those who have 
learned the handling of Nature must speak with you, 
that you may be understood. 

“I see — understand — your — ^thoughts that you wish 
to learn more of this weapon we use. You understand 
that it is undefeatable ? It is a question among us as to 
whether it is undefeatable, uncontrollable or just un- 
understandable. We have had fair success with it. It 
is not a weapon, was not developed as such ; it was an 
experiment in the line of electric-waves. How it works, 
what it is, what happens — ^we do not know. 

“But men who can create so marvelous a ship as this 
of yours, capable of destroying a ship of the Thessians 
(“enemy from other worlds” were his thoughts) with 
their own weapons must certainly be able to understand 
any machine we may make — and you have power?” he 
finished eagerly. 

“Practically infinite power. I will throw into any 
power line you suggest, all the direct current you wish, 
but right in that fact, that it is direct current, not 
alternating, is no doubt the greatest trouble, for I doubt 
if you have rotary converters capable of handling any 
tremendous power, and interrupters would not be able 
to handle any great power — unless made of relux, and 
we can’t make any relux for you. No apparatus.” 
Arcot’s thoughts were pure reflection, but the Talsonian 
brightened at once. 

“I feared it might be alternating — ^but we can handle 
direct current. All our transmission is done at high 
voltage direct current. What potential do you gen- 
erate? Will we have to install changers?” 

“We generate D.C. at any voltage up to fifty million, 

any power up to that is needed to lift ten 

trillion men through their own height in this time.” 
The time was a second, and the power represented ap- 
proximately twenty trillion horsepower. 

The Talsonian’s face went blank with amazement as 
he looked at the ship. “In that tiny thing you generate 
such power?” he asked in amazement. 

“In that tiny ship we generate more than one thou- 
sand times that power directly as electric current when 
we wish, and in all, can generate more than one million 
times that power, or 20,000,000,000,000,000,000 horse- 
power,” smiled Arcot. 

“Our power troubles are over,” declared the military 
man emphatically. 

“Our troubles are not over,” replied a civilian who 
had joined the party, with equal emphasis. “As a mat- 
ter of fact, they are worse than ever. More tantalizing. 
What he says means that we have a tremendous power 
source, but it is in one spot. How are you going to 
transmit the power ? We can’t possibly move any power 
anywhere near that amount. We couldn’t touch it to 
our lines without having them all go up in one instan- 
taneous blaze of glory. Every changer in the system 
would blow up, before the circuit relays could move. 
Even the accumulators would break down under the 
first jolt of anything like that. 

“We cannot drain such a lake of power through our 
tiny power pipes of silver ware,” said the Talsonian 
excitedly, and yet obviously partly in awe of the power 
Arcot had mentioned. 

“This man is Stel Felso Theu, the greatest of our 
^dentists, the man who has invented this weapon which 



alone seems to offer us hope. And I am afraid he is 
right. See, there is the University. For the power 
requirements of their laboratories, a heavy power line 
has been installed, and it was hoped that you could 
carry leads into it.” His face showed evident despair 
greater than ever. 

“We can always feed some power into the lines. Let 
us see just what hope there is. I think that it W'ould 
be wiser to investigate the power lines at once,” sug- 
gested Morey. 

T en minutes later, the military staff having retired, 
and but a single officer now accompanying them, 
other than Tho Stan Drel, the Terrestrial scientist, and 
the Talsonian scientist were inspecting the power 
installation. 

They had entered a large stone building, into which 
and from which led numerous very heavy silver wires. 
Evidently silver replaced copper on this world. The 
insulators were evidently silicate glass. Their height 
suggested a voltage of well over one hundred thousand, 
and such heavy cables suggested a very heavy amper- 
age, so that a tremendous load was expected. 

“No,” answered Stel Felso Theu, in reply to Arcot’s 
question, “we do not expect to use any such terrific 
power, but at times we find a very heavy amperage 
needed in an experiment, and at times a heavy amper- 
age is not wanted, but great voltage is, so we use these 
heavy wires, and the high insulation. It will permit a 
tremendous power, but we have never had use for it, 
of course.” 

Entering the building, the Terrestrians stopped in 
amazement. Completely filling the building were a 
series of gigantic glass tubes, their walls fully three 
inches thick, and even so, braced with metal supports 
that looked suspiciously like heavy platinum rods. In- 
side the tubes were tremendous elements such as the 
tiny tubes of their machine carried. Great cables led 
into them, and now their heating coils were glowing 
a somberly deep red. Little coronas surrounded the 
leads from the tubes at one end of the room. 

Along the walls were the switchboards, dozens of 
them, all sizes, all types of instruments, strange to the 
eyes of the Terrestrians, and in practically all the light- 
beam indicator system was used, no metallic pointers, 
but tiny mirrors directing a very fine line of brilliant 
light acted as a needle. The system thus had practi- 
cally no inertia. 

“Are these the changers?” asked Arcot gazing at the 
gigantic tubes. 

“They are, each tube will handle up to a hundred 
thousand times the potential of zinc-copper in the acid 
of the yellow powder*,” said Stel Felso Theu. One hun- 
dred thousand times the potential of a copper-zinc cell 
in copper sulphate solution would be of the order of 
110,000 volts. This was a thing as universal as the 
elements themselves. In any world this was true, 
though their system of correlating work-units by man- 
weights through man-heights was not a very accurate 
comparison, for though the Thessians, for instance, 
were not over three feet high, at most, and probably 
shorter than that, for it was exceedingly difficult to 
judge their height from a distance, their world was 
evidently very large, and subject to a great gravita- 
tional attraction. To such men, the man system would 
mean little. Further, Arcot had learned from the Orto- 
lians, who had performed some autopsies on their 
corpses, that their bones were not of stone, as ours are, 
but of practically pure iron, as are the “bones” of a 
skyscraper. Certainly the apparent weight of a man 
would be misjudged by a terrestrian, and probably the 
weight of these men had been misjudged — but the zinc- 
copper sulphuric-acid couple was free from such error. 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



169 



Arcot inspected the tubes with intense interest. If 
these people had developed reed power tubes such as 
these, perhaps they could make for him real power 
tubes for molecular motion units. With the screens 
and rays driven by such tubes 

But he quickly realized that that could not be. The 
sheer capacity of the elements of these tubes would pre- 
clude the production of the necessary high frequencies. 

That tubes could be made to act as direct current 
voltage transformers, much as the magnetic induction 
transformers for changing the voltage from alternat- 
ing current circuits, had been known for centuries on 
Earth, but before the tubes had been developed, alter- 
nating current had been so developed as to make the 
transfer to the more manageable direct current useless, 
and economically unwise. They had never used the 
system of Talso on Earth. 

“But I fear, Stel Felso Theu, that these tubes will 
carry power only one way; that is, it would be impos- 
sible for power to be pumped from here into the power 
house, though the process can be reversed,” pointed 
out Arcot anxiously. “Eadio tubes work only one way, 
which is why they can act as rectifiers. The same was 
true of these tubes. They could carry power one way 
only. 

“True, of tubes in general,” replied the Talsonian, 
“and I see by that that you know the entire theory of 
our tubes, which is rather abstruse.” 

“We use them on the ship, in special form,” inter- 
rupted Arcot. 

“Then I will only say that the college here has a very 
complete electric power plant of its own, and on special 
occasions, such as this, the power generated here is fre- 
quently needed by the city, and so we arranged the 
tubes with switches which could reverse the flow. At 
present they are operating to pour power into the city. 

“If your ship can generate such tremendous power, I 
suspect that it would be wiser to eliminate the tubes 
from the circuit, for they put certain restrictions on the 
line. Remember the line is designed for operation at 
either high voltage or amperage. The main power plant 
in the city has tube banks capable of handling any- 
thing the line would. I suggest that your voltage be 
set at the maximum that the line will carry without 
break-down, and the amperage can be made as high as 
possible without heat loss.” 

“Good enough — with this exception. Because of our 
super-abundance and cheapness of power, there is no 
need to avoid heat loss. We can run the line dull red. 
Silver won’t oxidize, and the lines are not insulated 
save by glass, and if the heating is slow, as it inevitably 
will be, the glass will not crack. The line to the city 
power will stand what pressure?” 

“It is good for the maximum of these tubes,, or 
100,000 copper-zinc units,” replied the Talsonian. 

“Then get into communication with the city plant and 
tell them to prepare for — ”, Arcot studied the lines 
carefully, making due allowance for the superior con- 
ductance of silver, and allowing for heating, “100,000 
such units of pressure, and — ”, another pause as Arcot 
translated amperes to copper plating units, “a current 
capable of plating about fifty times this mass of copper 
out in one second.” Arcot handed him a small bar of 
lux metal he had brought with him. The Talsonian 
immediately dropped it as its enormous density sur- 
prised him with too little muscular effort in his arm. 
He glanced at it in amazement as he picked it up with 
some difficulty and weighed it in his hand, again doing 
mental arithmetic. 

“That represents about seven hundred million horse- 
power,” gasped the Talsonian. “Can you give us so 
much ? Why, nothing on Talso could possibly stand 
that power!” 



“Well, tell them to get ready for every work-unit 
they can carry. I’ll get the generator.” Arcot turned, 
and flew on his power suit to the ship while the Tal- 
sonians stared after him in amazement. 

“A little pack on his back contains the same type of 
driving unit the ship uses, and is capable of lifting 
about a ton under full load — about over eight times his 
weight,” explained Morey in answer to their surprised 
glances. 

ARCOT disappeared in the ship. In a few moments 
iTihe was back, a molecular pistol in one hand, and 
suspended in front of him on nothing but a ray of 
ionized air, to all appearances, a cylindrical apparatus, 
with a small cubical base. From the base protruded a 
tremendously heavy relux clamp, and another from the 
end of the cylinder on top. Both were set in cups of 
lux metal insulators. 

The cylinder was about four feet long, and the cubi- 
cal box about eighteen inches on a side. 

“What is that, and what supports it ?” asked the Tal- 
sonian scientists in surprise. 

“The thing is supported by a ray which directs the 
molecules of a small bar in the top clamp, driving it 
up,” explained Morey, answering his last question first, 
“and that is the generator.” 

“That! Why it is hardly as big as a man!” exclaimed 
the Talsonian in disappointment. 

“Nevertheless, it can generate something in the 
neighborhood of a billion horsepower. But you 
couldn’t get the power away if you did generate it.” 
He turned toward Arcot, and called to him. 

“Arcot — set it down and let her rip on about half a 
million horsepower for a second or so. Air arc. Won’t 
hurt it — she’s made of lux and relux.” 

Arcot grinned, and set it on the ground. “Make an 
awful hole in the ground.” 

“Oh — go ahead. It will satisfy this fellow, I think,” 
replied Morey. 

Arcot pulled a very thin lux metal cord from his 
pocket, and attached one end of a long loop to one tiny 
switch, and the other to a second. Then he adjusted 
three small dials. The wire in hand, he retreated to a 
distance of nearly two hundred feet, while Morey 
warned the Talsonians back. Arcot pulled one end of 
his cord. 

Instantly a terrific crashing roar nearly deafened the 
men, a solid sheet of blinding flame enveloped the little 
machine, and a mighty tongue of blue flame reached in 
a flaming cone into the air for nearly fifty feet. The 
flame was a bit lop-sided, since the one contact was on 
one side of the base. The terrific screeching roar con- 
tinued for a moment, then the heat was so intense that 
Arcot could stand no more, and pulled the cord. The 
flame died instantly, though a slight ionization clung 
for a moment. The little machine was scarcely visible, 
its blue was so intense that the eyes were endangered. 
In a moment it had cooled to white, and was cooling 
slowly through orange — red deep — red — 

The grass for thirty feet about was gone, the soil 
for ten feet about was molten, boiling. The machine 
itself was in a little crater, half sunk in boiling rock. 

The Talsonians stared in amazement. Then a sort of 
sigh escaped them and they started forward. Arcot 
raised his molecular pistol, and a blue green ray reached 
out, and the rock suddenly was black. It settled swiftly 
down, and a slight depression was the only evidence of 
the terrifle action. 

Arcot walked over the now cool rock, cooled by the 
action of the molecular ray. In driving the molecules 
downward, the work was done by the heat of these mole- 
cules. The machine was evidently frozen in the solid 
lava. 




170 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Brilliant idea, Morey,” said Arcot disgustedly. 
“Now we have a nice job breaking it loose. 

Morey stuck the lux metal bar in the top clamp, 
walked off some distance, and snapped on the power for 
an instant. The rock immediately about the machine 
was molten again. A touch of the molecular pistol to 
the lux metal bar, and the machine jumped free of the 
molten rock. 

“I’ll hold it — clean it with cosmics.” 

“Use your head — that’s relux, it’ll simply throw cos- 
mics all over the place. Turn it on,” replied Arcot 
cheerily. 

Indeed, the reflected cosmics would have been danger- 
ous to plant life in the neighborhood, though the men 
could easily have retreated into a position where they 
wouldn’t be hit by them. But Morey did turn it on, and 
left it on longer this time. The noise was terrific, the 
air was a ball of fire for thirty feet around it, but the 
infusible, indestructible relux and lux were not dis- 
turbed, and the molecular ray functioned nicely, holding 
it where it was. In a very short time Morey felt quite 
sure that it was clean, for no rock could stay in that 
inferno without volatilizing instantly. He shut off the 
power. The machine was perfectly clean, and extremely 
hot. 

“And your ship is made of that stuff!” exclaimed the 
Talsonian scientist. “What will destroy it?” 

“Your weapon will, apparently. Also the molecular 
ray we used will change the reflective material into the 
clear material. We had to be careful not to have the 
ray touch the machine. 

“But do you believe that we have power enough?” 
asked Morey with a smile. 

“No — it’s entirely too much. Can you tone that con- 
densed lightning bolt down to a workable level?” 

CHAPTER IX 

The Irresistible and the Immovable 

T he generator Arcot had brought was one of the 
two spare generators used for laboratory work. 
He took it now into the sub-station, and directed 
the Talsonian students and the scientist in the task of 
connecting it into the lines ; though they knew where it 
belonged, he knew how it belonged. 

It was nearly a quarter of an hour before the power 
company was prepared to receive the enormous flow of 
power Arcot promised. Then the Terrestrian turned on 
the power, and gradually increased it until the power 
authorities were afraid of breakdowns. The leads to 
the generator were glowing a very rull red, and the 
long leads to the main power plant were decidedly 
warm. But the city plant itself was the limiting fac- 
tor, for there was a limit to what power they could 
carry. The accumulators were charged in the city, and 
the power was being shipped to other cities whose accu- 
mulators were not completely charged. 

But, after giving simple operating instructions to the 
students, Arcot and Morey went with Stel Felso Then 
to his laboratory, 

“Here,” he explained, “is the original apparatus. All 
these other machines you see are but replicas of this. 
How it works, why it works, even what it does, I am not 
sure of. Perhaps you will understand it. The thing is 
fully charged now, for it is, in part, one of the defenses 
of the city. Examine it now, and then I will show its 
power.” 

Interestedly Morey and Arcot looked at a large glass 
tube surrounded with a battery of terrifically powerful 
electro-magnets, and several huge condenser-plates. 
Evidently both electro-static and electro-magnetic fields 
were used here. Arcot looked it over in silence, follow- 



ing the great silver leads with silent interest. Finally 
he straightened, and returned to the Talsonian. In a 
moment Morey joined them. 

“I will now start the apparatus.” The Talsonian 
threw a switch, and an intense ionization appeared with- 
in the tube, then a minute spot of light was visible 
within the sphere of light. “The minute spot of radi- 
ance is the real secret of the weapon. The ball of fire 
about is merely wasted energy. 

“Now I will bring it out of the tube.” There were 
three dials on the control panel from which he worked, 
and now he adjusted one of these. The ball of fire 
moved steadily toward the glass wall of the tube, and 
with a crash the glass exploded Inward, It had been 
highly evacuated. Instantly the tiny ball of fire about 
the point of light expanded to a large globe. 

“It is now in the outer air. We make the — ^thing, in 
an evacuated glass tube, and can only release it by 
destroying the tube, but as they are cheap, it is not an 
expensive procedure. The ball will last in its present 
condition for approximately three hours. Feel the ex- 
ceedingly intense heat? It is radiating away its vast 
energy. 

“Now here is the point of greatest interest.” Again 
the Talsonian fell to work on his dials, watching the 
ball of fire, and the almost invisible intensely bright 
spot of light in its center. It seemed far more brilliant 
in the air now. It moved, and headed toward a great 
slab of solid steel off to one side of the laboratory. It 
shifted about until it was dii’ectly over the center of the 
great slab. The slab rested on a scale of some sort, 
and as the ball of fire touched it, the scale showed a 
sudden increase in load. The ball sank into the slab 
steel, and the scale showed a steady, enormous load. 
Evidently the little ball was pressing its w’ay through 
as though it were a solid body. In a moment it was 
through the steel slab, and out on the other side. 

“It will pass through any body with equal ease. It 
seems to answer only these controls, and these it an- 
swers perfectly, and without difficulty. 

“One other thing we can do with it. I can increase 
its rate of energy discharge. I will do so.” 

The Talsonian turned a fourth dial, well off to one 
side, and the brilliance of the spot increased enor- 
mously. The heat was unbearable. Almost at once he 
shut it off. 

“That is the principle we use in making it a weapon. 
Watch the actual operation.” 

The ball of fire shot toward an open window, out the 
window, and vanished in flying trail of ions far in the 
sky above. The Talsonian stopped the rotation of the 
dials. “It is motionless now, but scarcely visible. I 
will now release all the energy.” He twirled the fourth 
dial, and instantly there was a flash of light, and a 
moment later a terrific concussion. 

“It is gone.” He left the controls, and went over to 
his apparatus. He set a heavy silver bladed switch, 
and placed a new tube in the apparatus. A second 
switch arced a bit as he drove it home. “Your generator 
is recharging the accumulators.” 

The accumulators were exactly that; they were a 
huge series of condensers. They were being charged 
now in readiness for another “shot.” Arcot and Morey 
returned to the machine and examined it carefully now, 
and very curiously. Stel Felso Theu took the back- 
plate of the control cabinet off, and the Terrestrians 
looked at the control with interest. 

“Got it, Morey?” asked Arcot after a time, 

“Think so. Want to try making it up? We can do so 
out of spare junk about the ship, I think. We won’t 
need the tube if what I believe of it is true.” 

“Q.A.R, — We’ll do it. Come on.” Arcot turfied t® 
the Talsonian. “We wish you to accompany us to the 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



171 



ship. We have apparatus there which we wish to set up.” 

Back to the ship they went, and into the mathematics 
room. There Arcot, Morey and Wade worked rapidly 
on the machines, setting up equations and functions. 
The Ortolians showed the Talsonian the ship to the best 
of their abilities, and explained fully the nature of their 
attackers, and the mission that had brought the Terres- 
trians to their planet. 

It was about three-quarters of an hour later when 
Arcot and his friends called the others to the labora- 
tory. They had a maze of apparatus on the power 
bench, and the shining relux conductors ran all over the 
ship apparently. One huge bar ran into the power room 
itself, and plugged into the huge power-coil power 
supply. 

They were still working at it, but looked up as the 
Others entered. “Guess it will work,” said Arcot with 
a grin. 

There were four dials, and three huge switches. 
Arcot set all four dials, and threw one of the switches. 
Then he started slowly turning the fourth dial. In the 
center of the room a dim, shining mist of a foot di- 
ameter began to appear. It condensed, solidified with- 
out shrinking. In less than a minute it was a solid ball 
of matter a foot in diameter. It was strange, utterly 
strange. It seemed black, but was a perfectly reflective 
surface — and luminous ! 

“Then — then you had already known of this thing? 
you had it on your own world? Then why did you not 
tell me when I tried to show it,” said the Talsonian. 

Arcot was sending the globe, now perfectly non- 
luminous, about the room. It flattened out suddenly, 
and was a disc. He tossed a small weight on it, and it 
remained fixed, but began to radiate slightly, Arcot 
readjusted his dials, and it ceased radiating, held per- 
fectly motionless. The sphere returned, and the weight 
dropped with a metallic clang to the floor. Arcot 
maneuvered it about for a moment more. Then he 
placed his friends behind a screen of relux, and in- 
creased the radiation of the globe tremendously. The 
beat became intense, and he stopped the radiation. 

“No, Stel Felso Then, we do not have this on our 
world, but it is a marvelous thing. May I use it in our 
defense?” asked Arcot. 

“You do not have it ! You do not have it, yet you look 
at my apparatus for fifteen minutes, and then work' 
for an hour — and you have apparatus far more effec- 
tive than ours, which required years of development!” 
exclaimed the Talsonian. 

“Ah, but it was not wholly new to me. This ship is 
'driven by curving space into peculiar coordinates. 

“Even so, we didn’t do such a hot job, did we, 
Morey?” 

“No, we should have ” 

“What — it was not a good job? And you succeeded 
5n creating it in air — in making it stop radiating, in 
making a ball a foot in diameter, made it change to a 
disc, made it carry a load — what do you want?” inter- 
rupted the Talsonian explosively. 

“We want the full possibilities, the only things that 
can save us in this war. You do not know the full pos- 
sibilities? Then learn the cosmic force you played with, 
was let loose on your enemies. No wonder their mighty 
ships were wrecked under its awful powers!” Morey 
spoke swiftly, excitedly. 

“What you learned how to do was the reverse of the 
process we learned. How you did it is a wonder — ^but 
you did. Very well — matter is energy — does your 
physics know that?” asked Arcot. 

“It does; matter contains vast energy. Energy has 
mass, just as matter has,” replied the Talsonian. 

“Matter has mass, and energy because of that ! Mass 
is energy. Mass is the measure of energy; it is energy. 



Energy in any known form is a field of force in space. 
Matter — the gravitational field in space represents its 
energy — but it is its energy. Light — light has a mass, 
and that mass a gravitational field. Magnetism — is a 
field itself. Electrostatic energy — a field between 
charged bodies. The electric current— besides the mass 
field of the electron is the electrostatic field, though it 
is hard to distinguish one from the other, and when the 
electron moves, there is a magnetic field. 

“So matter is ordinarily a combination of magnetic, 
electrostatic and gravitational fields. Your apparatus 
combined the three, and put them together. The result 
was— matter ! 

“You created matter. We can destroy it, but we can- 
not create it, 

“What we ordinarily call matter, the substance, is 
just a marker, a sign that there are those energy-fields. 
Each bit is surrounded by a gravitational field. The bit 
is just the marker of that gravitational field.” 

“But that seems to be wrong. This artificial matter 
of yours seems also a sort of knot, for you make all 
three fields, combine them, and have the real matter, 
but the little spot that we call matter is not, very appar- 
ently, like normal matter. Normal matter also has a 
draw-string effect. It holds the fields that make it. 
The artificial matter is surrounded by the right fields, 
but it is evidently not able to hold the fields, as normal 
matter does. That was why your matter continually 
disintegrated to ordinary energy. The energy was not 
bound properly. 

“That I haven’t worked out — that is one of the things 
that has made my experiment unsuccessful. I was able 
to hold the energy by very nearly forcing more in. 

“But the reason why it would blow up so was obvious. 
It did not take much to destroy the slight hold that the 
artificial matter had on its fields, and then it instantly 
proceeded to release all its energy at once. And as you 
poured millions of horsepower into it all day to fill it, 
it naturally raised merry hell when it let loose.” 

Arcot was speaking eagerly, excitedly, 

“But here is the great fact, the important thing: It 
is artificially created in a given place. It is subject 
absolutely to the forces that make it. It is made, and 
exists at the point determined by these three coordinate 
dials. It is not natural, and can exist only where it is 
made. The thing is hard to explain. Its principle is 
that the stuff exists where it is made, and nowhere else 
— obvious, but important. It cannot exist save at the 
point designated. Then, if that point moves along a 
line, to continue existence, the artificial matter must 
follow that moving point and be always at that point. 
Suppose now that a slab of steel is on that line. The 
point moves to it — through it. To exist, that artificial 
matter MUST follow it through the steel — and if not, it 
is destroyed. Then the steel is attempting to destroy 
the artificial matter. If the matter has sufficient energy, 
it will force the steel out of the way, and penetrate. 
The same is true of any other matter, lux metal or 
relux — it will penetrate. To continue in existence it 
must. And it has great energy, and will expend every 
erg of that energy of existence to continue existence. 

“It is, as long as its energy holds out, absolutely 
irresistible! 

“But similarly, if it is at a given point, it must stay 
there, and will expend every erg staying there. It is 
then immovable ! It is either irresistible in motion, or 
immovable in static condition. It is the irresistible and 
the immovable! 

“What happens if the irresistible meets the immov- 
able ?” Arcot finished with a smile ? “It can only fight 
with its energy of existence, and the more' energetic 
prevails.” 




AMAZir^G STORIES QUARTERLY 









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CHAPTER X 

Improvements and Calculations 

T he Talsonian looked at Arcot for a long time in 
silence. Finally: “And you come to us for aid! 
One can, by merely looking at an apparatus we 
have spent years designing, make it infinitely more ef- 
fective, infinitely more manageable — ^seemingly without 
apparatus — yet you come to us !” 

“We had the apparatus all right,” explained Morey. 
“We keep all apparatus in a form that permits us to 
take it apart and put it together in different ways. 
When we had this problem, we merely constructed the 
apparatus from parts, for nearly all parts are, in the 
essentials, similar. It is the hook-up, not the appa- 
ratus. It is inductance and capacity and magnetics 
that count, not inductances, condensers, and magnets. 
Then, too, we had the advantage of having worked with 
space-force fields many, many times before.” 

It is still incredible. Bdt you have done it. It is 
certainly successful!” replied the Talsonian scientist 
with conviction. 

Far from it — we have not realized a thousandth part 
of the tremendous possibilities of this invention. We 
cannot, till we know more about it. We must work and 
calculate and then invent. Experiments can err, but 
mathematics, faithfully performed, cannot, and they 
will inevitably give the correct answer the first time. 

Think of the possibilities as a shield — naturally if 
we can make the matter we should be able to control its 
properties in any way we like. We should be able t» 



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INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



173 



make it opaque, transparent, red, green, blue, violet — ^ 
any color. We should be able to make it transparent to 
ultra-violet and opaque to cosmics. Cosmics ■would tend 
to destroy the artificial matter, but the matter would in 
turn expend its energy in maintaining its existence. 
Then — attach to this the idea I have already men- 
tioned.” Arcot was speaking more to Morey now. “Do 
you remember, when we were caught in that cosmic ray 
field in space when we first left this universe, that I 
said that I had an idea for energy so vast that it would 
be impossible to describe its awful power? I mentioned 
that I would attempt to liberate it if ever there was 
need? The need exists. I am going to seek that secret 
• — and if I find it, nothing in all this space will ever 
resist it — I think.” He added: “Don’t want to be too 
sure.” Which was wise. 

Stel Felso Theu was looking out through the -window 
at a group of men excitedly beckoning. He called the 
attention of the others to them, and himself went out. 
Arcot and Wade joined him in a moment. 

“They tell me that Fellsheh, well to the poleward of 
here, is being attacked. In fact, though they have used 
four of their eight shots, they are still being attacked,” 
explained the Talsonian gravely. 

“Well, get in,” snapped Arcot as he ran heavily back 
to the ship. Stel Felso hastily followed, and the Ancient 
Mariner shot into the air, above the city, and darted 
away, poleward, to the Talsonian’s directions. The 
ground fled behind them at a speed that made the scien- 
tist grip the hand-rail with a tenseness that showed his 
nervousness. 

It seemed hours, however, before the battle-front 
came into view. As they approached, a tremendous con- 
cussion, and a great gout of light in the sky informed 
them of the early demise of several Thessians. But a 
real fleet was clustered about the city. Arcot approached 
low, and was able to get quite close before detection. 
His ray screen was up, and Morey had charged the arti- 
ficial matter apparatus, small as it was, for operation. 
He created a ball of substance outside the Ancient Ma- 
riner, and thrust it toward the nearest Thessian, just as 
a molecular hit the Ancient Mariner’s ray screen. 

The artificial matter instantly exploded with terrific 
violence, slightly denting the tremendously strong lux 
metal walls. The pressure of the light was so great 
that the inner relux walls were dented inward. The 
ground below was suddenly, instantaneously fused. 

“Lord — ^they won’t pass a ray screen, obviously,” he 
muttered, picking himself up from where he had fallen 
as the ship leaped violently. 

“Hey — easy there. You blinked off the ray screen, 
and our relux is seriously weakened,” called Arcot, a 
note of worry in his voice. 

“No artificial matter with the ray screen up. I’ll use 
the magnet,” called Morey. 

He quickly shut off the apparatus, and went to the 
huge magnet control. The power room was crowded, 
and now that the battle was raging in truth, with three 
ships attacking simultaneously, even the enormous 
power capacity of the ship’s generators was not suffi- 
cient, and the storage coils had been thrown into the 
operation. Morey looked at the instruments a moment. 
They were all up to capacity, save the ammeter from 
the coils. That wasn’t registering yet. Suddenly it 
flicked, an^ the other instruments dropped to zero. 
They were in artificial space. 

“Come here, will you, Morey,” called Arcot. In a 
moment Morey joined his much worried friend. 

“That artificial matter control won’t work through 
ray screens. The Thessians never had to protect 
against moleculars here, and didn’t have them up — 
hence the destruction wrought. We can’t take our 
screen down, and we can’t use our most deadly weapon 



with it up. If we had a big outfit, we might throw a 
screen around the whole ship, and sail right in. But 
we haven’t.” 

“Well, it was getting too hot for us. We can’t stand 
ten seconds against that fleet, save with our wall up, 
and neither of us can hurt the other this way. I’m 
going to find their base, and make them yell for help.” 
Arcot snapped a tiny switch one notch further for the 
barest instant, then snapped it back. They were close 
to a hundred thousand miles from the planet as he 
opened the screen. Instantly he set to work, but 
straightened with a laugh, and threw the ship several 
million miles from the planet, “Quicker,” he explained, 
“to simply follow those ships back home — go back in 
time.” 

With the telectroscope, he took views at various dis- 
tances, thus quickly tracing them back to their base at 
the pole of the planet. Instantly Arcot shot down, 
reaching the pole in less than a second, by careful 
maneuvering of the space device. 

A gigantic dome of polished relux rose from rocky, 
icy plains. The thing was nearly half a mile high, a 
mighty rounded roof that covered an area almost three- 
quarters of a mile in diameter. Titanic — that was the 
only word that described it. About it there was the 
peculiar shimmer of a molecular ray screen. They 
could not see within the enclosure, for the relux turned 
back all light, yet they knew that -within were the Thes- 
sian garrison. 

Morey looked a minute, then grinned. He darted to 
the power room and again set his apparatus into opera- 
tion. He created a ball of matter outside the ship, the 
ray screen now down, and hurled it instantly at the 
fort. It exploded with a terrific concussion as it hit the 
wall of the ray screen. Almost instantly a second one 
followed, weighing nearly half a pound. The concussion 
was terrifically violent, the ground about was fused, 
and the ray screen was opened for a moment. Arcot 
threw all his moleculars on the screen, as Morey sent 
bomb after bomb at it. The coils supplied the energy, 
and the violent concussions rocked the un-fused ground, 
cracked the ice about, and the rock beneath. Each 
energy release disrupted the ray-screen for a moment, 
and the concentrated fury of the molecular beams 
poured through the opened screen, and struck the relux 
behind. It glowed opalescent now in a spot twenty feet 
across. But the relux was thick — ^tremendously thick, 
and it lasted. Thirty bombs Morey hurled, while cos- 
mics from the fort played on the relux protection of 
the Ancient Mariner. Their eyes were destroyed, but 
they were motionless, and they held their position with- 
out difficulty, pouring their bombs and rays at the fort. 

Arcot threw the ship into space, moved, and reap- 
peared suddenly nearly three hundred yards further on, 
A snap of the eyes, and he saw that the fleet was ap- 
proaching now. He went again into space, and re- 
treated. Discretion was the better part of valor. But 
his plan had worked, 

H e waited half an hour, and returned. From a dis- 
tance the telectroscope told him that one lone ship 
was patroling outside the fort. He moved toward it, 
creeping up behind the icy mountains. The ship seemed 
to loom suddenly before him, and his magnetic beam 
reached out. The ship lurched and fell. The magnetic 
beam reached out toward the fort, from which a mole- 
cular ray had reached already, tearing up the icy waste 
which had concealed him. The ray-screen stopped it, 
while again Morey turned the magnetic beam on — this 
time against the fort. The ray remained on! Arcot 
retreated hastily. 

“They found the secret, all right. No use, Morey, 
come on up,” called the pilot. “They evidently put 




174 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



magnetic shielding around the apparatus. That means 
the magnetic beam is no good to us any more. They 
will certainly warn every other base, and have them 
install similar protection.” 

‘‘Why didn’t you try the magnetic ray on the occa- 
sion of our first attack?” asked Zezdon Afthen 
curiously. 

“If it worked, I didn’t want it to, and I suspected it 
wouldn’t. If it had worked, their sending apparatus 
would have been destroyed, and no message could have 
been sent to call their dogs off of Fellsheh and our plan 
would have been unsuccessful. By forcing them to 
recall their fleet I got results I couldn’t get by attacking 
the fleet. 

“I think there is little more I can do here, Stel Felso 
Then. I will take you to Shesto, and there make final 
arrangements till my return — if ever, with apparatus 
capable of overthrowing your enemies. If you wish to 
accompany me — you may.” He glanced around at the 
others of his party. “And our next move will be to 
return to Earth with what we have. Then we will 
investigate the Sirian planets, and learn anything they 
may have of interest, thence — to the real outer space, 
the utter void of inter-galactic space, and an attempt 
to learn the secret of that enormous power,” finished 
Arcot. 

“Teri'estrian, why do you need greater power than 
the enormous powers you have shown me?” asked Stel 
Felso Then. 

For answer, Arcot lead him to the laboratory, and 
there picked up two small electro-magnets, connecting 
them to the power lines, one drawing five amperes and 
the other ten. He arranged them so that the north 
poles of each were adjacent. A powerful i^epulsive ac- 
tion was set up. 

“Stel Felso Then, take these, and push them together 
slowly,” he suggested, handing him the magnets. The 
Talsonian took them curiously, and pushed them slowly 
toward each other. The repulsive force between them 
grew steadily as they approached, greater — greater — 
then it stopped inci’easing, and began to decline very 
rapidly, till at last it was practically zero. Then, for 
the last half inch, there was a pull between them. 

He looked curiously at Arcot. 

“At first they repel, then as they come nearer, the 
repulsion grows, but as they come still nearer the 
stronger tends to reverse the polarity of the weaker, 
and they struggle, the weaker struggling to maintain its 
identity. They come nearer, and the forces are slowly 
struggling in a death battle, the weaker steadily losing 
to the greater. They come nearer, and the weaker com- 
pletely loses its polarity in the greater field of the 
stronger, and now, just a piece of steel, it is attracted, 
its identity lost. 

“The force with the lesser power has been overcome, 
its identity lost, finally completely destroyed by the 
greater power. It is power that conquers. They each 
fought with the same weapons, but the greater power 
inevitably won. If we can get vast power— -we need no 
great weapons.” 

They returned to Shesto, and there Arcot arranged 
that the only generator they could spare, the one already 
in their possession, might be used till other Terrestrian 
ships of the Ancient Mariner type, designed for their 
use in commerce with Nansaland and Sator in that 
other Island Universe Arcot and his friends had visited, 
could bring more. 

Then they left for Earth. Hour after hour they fled 
through the utter void, till at last old Sol was growing 
swiftly ahead of them, and finally Earth itself was 
large on the screens. Stel Felso Then looked on with 
vast interest as the strange planet loomed larger and 
still larger on the distorted view-screen. Finally they 



changed to a straight molecular drive, and dropped to 
the Vermont field from which they had taken off. 

During the long voyage, Morey and Arcot had both 
spent much of their time working on the time-distortion 
field, till at last it was finished, and plans were drawn 
up for installation of an apparatus which would give 
them a tremendous control over time, either speeding or 
slowing their time rate enormously. At last, this fin- 
ished, they had worked on the artificial matter theory, 
and developed considerable of the theory, at least to the 
point where they could control the shape of the matter 
perfectly, though as yet they could not control the 
exact nature. The possibility of such control was, how- 
ever, definitely proven by the results the machines had 
given them. Arcot had been more immediately inter- 
ested in the control of form. He could control the na- 
ture as to opacity or transparency to all vibrations that 
normal matter is opaque or transparent to. Light would 
pass, or not as he chose, but cosmics he could not stop 
nor would radio or moleculars be stopped by any pres- 
ent shield he could make. 

The relux making the inner lining of the Ancient 
Mariner was distinctly weakened, and this they could 
not repair ; neither were they able to have an inner coat 
put on. However, Arcot hoped that the power room and 
the pilot room might have an outer sheath of relux 
applied in time. Their time on Earth would be short, 
less than a day, but perhaps 

They had signalled, as soon as they slowed outside the 
atmosphere, for a landing, and when they settled to the 
field, Arcot senior and a number of very important 
scientists had already arrived. More were coming as 
Arcot met his father on the field. 

Arcot senior greeted his son very warmly, but he 
was worried, tremendously worried, as his son soon saw. 

“TT THAT’S happened. Dad, won’t they believe your 

VV statements?” 

“They doubted when I went to Luna for a session 
with the Interplanetary Council, but before they could 
say much, they had plenty of proof of my statements,” 
he answered with a wry smile. “News came that a fleet 
of Planetary Guard ships had been wiped out instant- 
aneously by a fleet of ships from outer space. They 
were huge things — nearly half a mile in length. The 
Guard ships went up to them — fifty of them — and tried 
to signal for a conference. The white ship was in- 
stantly wiped out — we don’t know how. They didn’t 
have ray screens, but that wasn’t it. Whatever it was 
— slightly luminous ray in space— it simply released the 
energy of the lux metal and relux of the ship. Being 
composed of light energy simply bound by photonic 
attraction, it let go with terrible energy. We can do it 
slowly in a special apparatus. They can do it almost 
instantly from a distance. Only one ship had the ray 
apparatus. The other Guards at once let loose with all 
their moleculars and cosmics. The enemy screen 
sbunted off the moleculars, the cosmics blinded the big 
ray-ship, but the others sent moleculars and wiped out 
the Guard almost instantly. 

“Of course, I could explain the screen, which was 
new, but not the detonation ray, I am inclined to be- 
lieve from other casualties that the destruction, though 
reported as an instantaneous explosion, was not that. 
Other ships have been destroyed, and they seemed to 
catch fire, and burn, but with terrific speed, more like 
gun powder than coal. It seems to start a spreading 
decomposition, the ship lasts perhaps ten minutes. If it 
went instantly, the shock of such a tremendous energy ' 
release would disrupt the planet. 

“At any rate, the great fleet separated, twelve went 
to the North Pole of Earth, twelve to the south', and 
similarly twelve to each pole of Venus. Then one of 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



175 



them turned, and went back to wherever it had come 
from, to report. Just turned and vanished. Similarly 
one from Venus turned and vanished. That leaves 
twelve at each of the four poles, for, as I said, there 
were an even fifty, 

“They all followed the same tactics on landing, so I'll 
simply tell what happened in Arctica, In the North 
they had to pick one of the islands a bit to the south of 
the pole. They melted about a hundred square miles of 
ice to find one, 

“The ships arranged themselves in a circle around the 
place, and literally hundreds of men poured out of each, 
and fell to work with machines. In an inconceivably 
short time, their motions were exceedingly rapid, they 
had set up a number of machines, the parts coming 
from the ships. These machines at once set to work, 
and they built up a relux wall, A tiny ship watched 
from direct vision range, but the main observation was 
done from telectroscope machines at great distance. 
That wall, according to both parties, was at least six 
feet thick! The machines that made the relux, placed 
it. The floor was lined with thick relux as well as the 
roof, which is simply a continuation of the wall in a 
perfect dome. They had so many machines working on 
it, that within twenty-four hours they had it finished, 
while huge masses of water had been drawn in to supply 
the machines. 

“We attacked twice, once in practically our entire 
force, with some ray-shield machines. The result was, 
as I had predicted, disastrous. The second attack was 
made with ray shielded machines only, and little dam- 
age was done to either side, though the enemy were 
somewhat impeded by masses of ice hurled into their 
position by cosmics. Alt the workers wore relux suits, 
and the separate ships resting threw out a ray shield. 
The combined screens protected the workers. Their 
relux disintegration ray was conspicuous by its absence. 

“Yesterday — seems a lot longer than that, son — they 
started it again. They’d been unloading it from the 
ship evidently. We had had ray-shielded machines out, 
but they simply melted. They went down, and Earth 
retreated. They’re in their fortress now. We don’t 
know how to fight them. Now, for God’s sake, tell us 
you have learned of some weapon, son!” The older 
man’s face was lined and deadly serious as he pleaded 
for some encouraging word. His iron gray head showed 
his fatigue due to hours of concentration on his work, 

“Some,” replied Arcot junior briefly. He glanced 
around. Other men had arrived, men he knew, whom 
he met in his work, or at meetings of the American 
Association for the Advancement of Science. But there 
were Venerians here, too, in their protective suits, insu- 
lated against the cold of Earth, deadly to them, and 
against its dissecting-room atmosphere. 

“First, though, gentlemen, allow me to introduce Stel 
Felso Then of the planet Talso, one of our allies in this 
struggle, and Zezdon Afthen and Fentes of Ortol, 
which, as you already know, is one of our other allies. 

“As to progress, I can say only that it is in a more or 
less rudimentary stage. We have the basis for great 
progress, a weapon of inestimable value — but it is only 
the basis. It must be worked out. I am leaving with 
you today the completed calculations and equations of 
the time field, the system used by the Thessian invaders 
in propelling their ships at a speed greater than that of 
light. Also, the uncompleted calculations in regard to 
another matter, a weapon which our ally, Talso, has 
given us, in exchange for the aid we gave in allowing 
them the use of one of our generators. Unfortunately 
the ship could not spare more than the single generator. 
I strongly advise rushing a Jiumber of generators to 
Talso in intergalactic freighters. They badly need 
power — power of respectable dimensions. 



“I have stopped on Earth only temporarily, and I 
want to leave as soon as possible. I intend, however, 
to attempt an attack on the Arctic base of the Thessians, 
in strong hopes that they have not armoured against 
one weapon that the Ancient Mariner carries — ^though 
I sadly fear that old Earth herself has played us false 
here. I hope to use the magnetic beam, but Earth’s 
polar magnetism may have forced them to armor, and 
they may have sufficiently heavy material to block the 
effects. As yet, no ship can have reached them from 
Talso, where they have already set up a base, for I 
believe our system is more rapid than theirs.” 

In this belief Arcot was wrong. His maximum speed 
was greater, due to the peculiar practical considera- 
tions. A time control permitted full speed across 
space, since they at all times had perfect vision. The 
distortion of light due to speed was automatically rec- 
tified by their time fields; therefore they did not have 
to run at less than one-fifth full speed, whereas Arcot 
was forced to run at less than one-fifth full speed. A 
ship had already arrived, and the Thessians were work- 
ing on complete magnetic protection. 

M orey distributed the papers which had been made 
out upon the time field, and the incomplete cal- 
culations on the artificial matter, while Arcot already 
had a ground crew servicing the ship. He gave designs 
to machinists on hand to make certain control panels 
for the large artificial matter machine. The Ancient 
Mariner's store rooms were crowded with machinery, 
many very valuable cubic feet of storage space being 
sacrificed. The new “Mariner Type” machines being 
constructed had required the peculiar energy storage 
coils used in storing power for the space distortion ap- 
paratus, and many were on hand. Practically a third 
bank was installed, and charged at the maximum rate 
of the ship’s huge generators while Morey, Arcot and 
^ade got some badly needed sleep. 

At least the danger of human interference with their 
plans was negligible. No human could hope for gain 
through an overt action, only some fanatic that felt 
“Called of God” to see that the Earth was “punished 
for its sins” could be expected to interfere — and did. 
One genius threw a tremendously powerful chemical 
explosive bomb under one side of the Ancient Mariner. 
It made a large pit in the landing field, killed one man 
and injured three others. The Ancient Mariner was 
slightly shifted as the ground gave way to the explo- 
sive. It takes more than chemical explosives to injure 
six inches of lux metal. 

Nevertheless, in six hours, Arcot had announced him- 
self ready, and a squadron of Planetary Guard ships 
were ready to accompany the re-fitted Ancient Mariner. 

They approached the pole cautiously, and were re- 
warded by the hiss and roar of ice melting into water, 
which burst into steam under a cosmic ray. A mole- 
cular followed. They were coming from an outpost of 
the camp, a tiny dome under a great mass of ice. But 
the dome was of relux. A molecular reached down 
from a Guard ship — and the Guard ship crumbled sud- 
denly as dozens of moleculars from other points hit it. 

“They know how to fight this kind of a war. That’s 
their biggest advantage,” muttered Arcot. Wade merely 
swore. 

“Ray screens, no moleculars,” snapped Arcot into the 
transmitter. He was not their leader, but they saw his 
wisdom, and the squadron commander repeated the ad- 
vice as an order. In the meantime, another ship had 
fallen. The dome had its screen up, allowing the multi- 
tudes of hidden stations outside to fight for it. They 
were bathed in cosmics, that melted their fey cover, and 
dozens of the miniature forts came into view. 




176 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Hmm — something to remember — when terrestrians 
have to retire to forts. They will, too, before this war 
is over. That way the main fort doesn’t have to lower 
its ray screen to fight,” commented Arcot. He was 
watching intensely as a tiny ship swung away from one 
of the larger machines, and a tremendously powerful 
molecular started biting at the fort’s ray screen. The 
ship seemed nothing but a flying ray projector, which 
was what it was. 

As they had hoped, the deadly new ray stabbed out 
from somewhere on the side of the fort. It was not 
within the fort. 

“Which means,” pointed out Morey, “that they can’t 
make stuif to stand that. Probably the projector would 
be vulnerable.” 

But a barrage of cosmics, w'hich immediately fol- 
lowed back the brilliant beam of ionization, had no 
apparent effect. The little radio-controlled molecular 
beam projector lay on the rock under the melted ice, 
blazing incandescent with the rapidly released energy 
of the relux. 

“Now to try the real test we came here for,” Morey 
clambered back to the power room, and turned on the 
controls of the magnetic beam. The ship was aligned, 
and then he threw the last switch. The great mass of 
the machine jerked violently, and plunged forward as 
the beam attracted the magnetic core of the Earth. 

Morey could not see it, but almost instantly the shim- 
mer of the molecular screen on the fort died out. The 
deadly ray sprang out from the Thessian projector — 
and went dead. A cosmic ray started — and went dead. 
Frantically the Thessians tried weapon after weapon, 
and found them dead almost as soon as they were 
turned on — which was the natural result in the terrific 
magnetic field. 

And these men had iron bones, their very bones were 
attracted by the beam; they plunged upward toward 
the ship as the beam touched them, but, accustomed 
to the enormous gravitational accelerations of an enor- 
mous world, most of them were not killed. 

The molecular screen of the fort down, several of the 
Guard ships made the mistake of using their own mole- 
cular rays, which exposed them to the attacks of the 
little outskirt forts, as their screens were lowered. 
Arcot turned the ship now, and the magnetic beam 
played on one after another of the miniature forts, with 
dire results. One after another went dead, and leaping 
figures scurried from them, their packs alone protecting 
them. But there were too many. And while one 
existed, no ship could lower its screen to attack the fort. 

“Ah ” exclaimed Arcot. He picked up the trans- 

mitter and spoke again to the Squadron Commander. 
“Squadron Commander Tharnton, what relux thickness 
does your ship carry.” 

“Inch and a quarter,” replied the surprised voice of 
the commander instantly. 

“Any of the other ships carry heavier?” 

“Yes, special solar investigator carries five inches. 
One alone. What shall w^e do?” 

“Tell him to lower his screen, and let loose at once 
on all operating forts. His relux will stand for the time 
needed to shut them down for their own screens, unless 
some genius decides to fight it out. As soon as the 
other ships can lower their screens, tell them to do so, 
and tell them to join in. I’ll be able to help then. My 
relux has been burned, and I’m afraid to lower the 
screen. It’s mighty thin already.” 

The Squadron Commander w^as smiling joyously as he 
relayed the advice as a command. 

Almost at once a single ship, blunt, p almost perfect 
cylinder, lowered its screen. In an instant the opal- 
escence of the transformation showed on it, but its 
dozen ray projectors were at work. Fort after fort 



glowed opalescent, then flashed into protective ioniza- 
tion of screening. Quickly other ships lowered their 
screens, and joined in. In a moment more, the forts 
had been forced to raise their screens for protection. 
Still, many of the ships were fighting blind, their “eyes” 
gone under cosmics. 

Now at last a barrage of molecular s struck the six- 
foot relux of the fort. Arcot grinned. “They won’t 
get far in that.” Wade took over the ship, and Arcot 
retired to the new artificial matter room, and started 
the screen there. A chance cosmic wiped out the eyes. 
Another set flashed into action — and revealed the fort 
protected by the merged fields of the Thessian ships 
within. The ship rocked under another jolt of the 
magnetic beam, and in several places the screen fell. 

A disc of artificial mater ten feet across suddenly 
appeared beside the Ancient Mariner. It advanced with 
terrific speed, struck the great dome of the fort, and 
the dome caved, bent in, bent still more — but would 
not puncture. The disc retreated, became a sharp 
cone, and drove in again. This time the point smashed 
through the relux, and made a small hole. The cone 
seemed to change gradually, melting into a cylinder 
of twenty foot diameter, and the hole simply expanded. 
It continued to expand as the cylinder became a huge 
disc, a hundred feet across, set in the wall. The junc- 
ture of the wall and disc was a blazing inferno of re- 
leased energy as the disc expanded. 

Suddenly it simply dissolved. There was a terrific 
roar, and a mighty column of white rushed out of the 
gaping hole. Figures of Thessians caught by the terri- 
fic current came rocketing out. The inside was at 
last visible. The terrific pressure was hurling the 
outside line of ships about like thistledown. The 
Ancient Mariner reeled back under the tremendous blast 
of expanding gas. The snow that fell to the boiling 
water below was not water, in toto, but some was carbon 
dioxide — and some oxygen chilled in the expansion of 
the gas. It was snowing within the dome. The falling 
forms of Thessians were robbed of the life-giving air 
pressure to which they were accustomed. But all this 
was visible for but an instant. 

Then a small, thin sheet of the artificial matter 
formed beside the fort, and advanced on the dome. 
Like a knife cutting open an orange, it simply went 
around the dome’s edge, cutting through it. Half way 
around — three quarters — and the great dome lifted like 
the lid of a teapot under the enormous gas pressure 
remaining — then dropped under its own weight. 

The artificial matter was again a huge disc. It 
settled over the exact center of the dome — and went 
down. The dome caved in. It was crushed under a 
load utterly inestimable. Then the great disc, like 
some monstrous tamper, tamped the entire works of 
the Thessians into the bed-rock of the island. Every 
ship, every miniature fort, every man was caught 
under it — and annihilated. 

The disc dissolved. A terrific barrage of cosmics 
played over the island, and the rock melted, flowed 
over the ruins, and left only the spumes of steam from 
the Arctic ice, rising from a red-hot mass of rock, 
containing a boiling pool. 

The Battle of the Arctic was done. Arcot turned 
the machine south. 

CHAPTER XI 

“Write Off the Magnet” 

“f^ON,” said Dr. Arcot senior’s voice over the radio 
^ communicator, “that was a marvelous demonstra- 
^ tion of energy controlled for destructive purposed. 
Thett has lost one base in this system. 



ITTj 



INVADERS FROM rHE INFlNOtfi 



“But,” his voice continued seriously, “it still has 
three others and — while you were fighting there to the 
North, the South, too, witnessed a battle. Capetown 
was wiped out. They did not use the merciful death 
ray, nor the molecular. They are a vindictive people. 
They burned the entire city with low concentration 
cosmics, while guard ships watched helplessly.” 

Morey’s comments were brief, relating principally to 
the future consignment of the Thessian race. Arcot 
turned to his transmitter and called the Squadron 
Commander. 

“You heard? Capetown wiped out. Let’s see what 
we can do with the South Polar base.” 

“Squadron Commander Tharnton speaking : Squadron 
73-B of Planetary Guard will follow orders from Dr. 
Arcot directly. Heading south to Antarctica at maxi- 
mum speed,” droned the communicator, but under the 
official tone of command was a note of suppressed rage 
and determination. “And the Squadron Commander 
wishes Dr. Arcot every success in wiping out Antarctica 
as thoroughly and completely as he destroyed the Arctic 
base — and may all Thessians be eternally damned. My 
wife lived in Capetown.” 

The flight of ships headed south at a speed that 
heated them white in the air, thin as it was at the 
hundred mile altitude, yet going higher would have 
taken unnecessary time, and the white heat meant no 
discomfort. They reached Antarctic in about ten min- 
utes. The Thessian ships were just entering through 
great locks in the walls of the dome. At the first sight 
of the terrestrial ships they turned, and shot toward 
the guard-ships. Their screens were down, for, ar- 
mored as they were with very heavy relux, they ex- 
pected to be able to overcome the tersestrial thin relux 
before theirs was seriously impaired. 

“Ships will put up screens,” Arcot spoke sharply— . 
a new plan had occurred to him. The moleculars of the 
Thessians struck glowing screens, and no damage was 
done. “Ships, in order of number, will lower screen 
for thirty seconds, and concentrate all moleculars on 
one ship — the leader. Solar investigator will not join 
in action.” 

The flagship of the squadron lowered its screen, and 
a tremendous bombardment of rays struck the leading 
ship practically in one point. The relux glowed, and 
the opalescence shifted with bewildering, confusing 
colors. Then the terrestrial ship’s screen was up, be- 
fore the Thessians could concentrate on the one un- 
protected ship. Immediately another Terrestrial ship 
opened its screen and bombarded the same ship. Two 
others followed — and then it was forced to use its 
screen. 

But suddenly a terrestrial ship crashed. Its straining 
screen had been overworked — and it failed. 

Arcot’s magnetic beam went into action. A huge 
Thessian battleship staggered, and fell, its screen down. 
It crashed heavily on the icy, tumbled hillside. A door 
opened and long lines of men filed from it, quickly 
setting up apparatus on the ice. The Dome fort was 
not as yet actively fighting, save with cosmics which did 
little damage, but did annoy. It was easy to keep 
behind some Thessian ship, and so be out of range 
of the blinding rays. 

Morey, with Arcot’s aid, was systematically wrecking 
the propulsive engines of the Thessian ships. But a 
few were left in the air when they changed their tactics, 
and charged down on the terrestrial ships. Three 
guard ships were changed to masses of bent, distorted 
relux under the ship bombardment. It was almost im- 
possible to dodge the terrific charges, for the vastly 
greater accelerations which the Thessians used, made it 
like the strike of a snake. 

A Thessian ship loomed suddenly huge beside the 



Ancient Mariner. Arcot touched the switch — and they 
were alone in space. Alone — save for a great chunk 
of relux which drifted swiftly against the lux walls, 
only to bounce off. Arcot looked at it in puzzled won- 
der. It was the cap of a Thessian ship, the very tip of 
the nose. It was one solid piece of relux easily ten 
feet thick. 

“Designed for ramming, I see. But even it gave way 
when we went into space — and that bow was too near. 
Too bad we can’t use that system, but we can’t get 
near the Dome, because of the new ray, and the ships 
won’t stand still long enough for us.” 

Ten seconds later Arcot reappeared. All the Thes- 
sian ships were on the ground! A blazing mass of 
incandescence explained these tactics. Another ship 
was suddenly afire under the deadly ray. 

“Down — beside a Thessian” commanded Arcot 
sharply. He himself retreated again into space. 

“Tactics — while their friends were in the air. They 
couldn’t use it of course. Now what?” 

Arcot reappeared, aligned the ship almost instantly, 
and Morey threw on the magnet. 'The deadly ray did 
not go out — it flickered, dimmed, but was apparently 
as deadly as ever. 

“Shielded — write off the magnet, Morey. That is 
one asset we lose.” 

Arcot, protected in space, was thinking swiftly. 
Moleculars — useless. They had to keep their own 

screens up. Cosmics — against relux! Hopeless. Arti- 
ficial matter — bound in by their own molecular screen! 
And the magnet had failed them against the protected 
mechanism of the dome. The ships were not as yet 
protected, but the dome was. 

“Guess the only place we’d be safe is under the 
ground — way under!” commented Wade drily. 

“Under the ground — Wade, you’re a genius!” Arcot 
gave a shout of joy, and told Wade to take over the 
ship. He called Morey into session, while Wade looked 
in blank wonderment. He had apparently been very 
brilliant, but just how he didn’t as yet see. 

“Take the ship back into normal space, head for the 
hill over behind the Dome, and drop behind it. It’s 
solid rock, and even their rays will take a moment or 
so to move it. As soon as you get there, drop to the 
ground, and turn off the screen. No — ^here. I’ll do it. 
You just take it there, land on the ground, and shut 
off the screen. I promise the rest!” Arcot dived for 
the artificial matter room. 

T he ship was suddenly in normal space; its screen 
up. The dog-fight had been ended. The terrestrial 
ships had been completely defeated. The Ancient 
Mariner’s appearance was a signal for all the molecu- 
lars in sight. Ten huge ships, half a dozen small forts, 
and the now unshielded Dome, joined in. Their screen 
tubes heated up violently in the brief moment it took 
to dive behind the hill, a tube fused, and blew out. 
Automatic devices shunted it, another tube took the 
load — and heated. But their screen was full of holes 
before they were safe for the moment behind the hill. 

Instantly Wade dropped the defective screen. Al- 
most as quickly as the screen vanished, a cylinder of 
artificial matter surrounded the entire ship. The cylin- 
der was tipped by a perfect cone of the same base diam- 
eter. The entire system settled into the solid rock, making 
it flow like mud under the enormous pressure of arti- 
ficial matter. The heat generated by the escaping 
energy aided somewhat, as they sank in a moment a 
quarter of a mile into solid rock. The rock above 
cracked and filled in behind them. The ship was sud- 
denly pushed by the base of the cylinder behind them, 
and they drove on through the rock, the cone parting 
the hard granite ahead. They went perhaps half a mile. 




178 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



then stopped. In the light of the ship’s windows, they 
could see the faint mistiness of the inconceivable hard, 
artificial matter, and beyond the slick, polished surface 
of the rock it was pushing aside. The cone shape was 
still there. 

There was a terrific roar behind them, the rock above 
cracked, shifted and moved about. 

“Raying the spot where we went down,” Arcot 
grinned happily. 

A reddish glow came from behind. “Cosmic now.” 
The reddish color grew swiftly, became orange, and 
the rock slumped into white lava. 

The cone and cylinder merged, shifted together, and 
became a sphere. The sphere elongated upward, and 
the Ancient Mariner turned in it, till it, too, pointed 
upward. The sphere became an ellipsoid. 

Suddenly the ship was moving, accelerating terrific- 
ally. It plowed through the solid rock, and up — into a 
burst of light. They were inside the dome. A great 
rent in the floor behind them told the secret of their 
presence. Great ships were berthed about the floor. 
Huge machines bulked here and there — barracks for the 
men — everything. 

The ellipsoid shrank to a sphere, the sphere grew a 
protuberance which separated and became a single bar- 
like cylinder. The bar shot toward a huge machine on 
one side, passed through it, turned, and reversed. The 
machine released a flood of cosmic rays. They hit the 
dome wall, were reflected and re-reflected, a burning, 
awful flood of cosmic rays. Many of the structures were 
made of natural elements, and these added to the horror 
by sending out great tongues of flame, floods of radia- 
tion of their own, of burning hydrogen. 

The bar turned, and drove through the great dome 
wall. A little hole — but it whirled rapidly around, 
sliced the top off neatly and quickly. Again, like a 
gigantic teapot lid, the whole great structure lifted, 
settled, lifted, settled, and stayed there. Men, scram- 
bling wildly toward ships, suddenly stopped, seemed to 
blur and their features ran together horribly. They 
fell — and were dead in an instant as the air disappeared. 
In another instant they were solid blocks of ice, for the 
temperature was below the freezing point of carbon 
dioxide. 

The giant tamper set to work. The Thessian ships 
went first. Their cold tubes were rapidly becoming 
effective as occasional weak moleculai'S testified. But 
they were all crumpled, battered wrecks in a few 
seconds of work of the terrible disc. 

The dome was destroyed. Arcot tried something 
else. He put on his control machine the equation of a 
hyperboloid of two branches, and changed the constants 
gradually till the two branches came close. Then he 
forced them against each other. Instantly they fought, 
fought terribly for existence. A tremendous blast of 
light and heat exploded into being. Two tons of lead 
had been used to charge the coils that fed them. The 
energy of two tons of lead attempted to maintain those 
two branches. It was not, fortunately, explosive, and 
it took place over a relux floor. Most of the energy 
escaped into space. The vast flood of light was visible 
on Venus, despite the clouds. 

But it fused most of Antarctica. It destroyed the 
last traces of the camp in Antarctica. 

“Well — the Squadron was wiped out I see.” Arcot’s 
voice was flat as he spoke. The Squadron — twenty ships 
. — four hundred men. 

“Yes — but so is the Arctic camp, and the Antarctic 
camp, as well,” replied Wade. He knew Arcot, and at 
present Arcot was about ready to start off on a single 
handed punitive expedition. That had happened once. 
Arcot had seen three husky interplanetary dock-hands 
hold up a little old lady, and take from her some two 



hundred dollars. “My funeral money” she had called it. 
Arcot caught the dock-hands, and when the police ar- 
rived they were all taken to the station. The dock- 
hands were there for treatment; Arcot was held on a 
charge of assault and battery. 

“What next, Arcot. Shall we go out to intergalactic 
space at once?” asked Morey, coming up from the power 
room. 

Arcot steadied himself, and grinned at his friends. 
“You win, I guess I was about to lose my temper. I 
was about to start for Venus and finish the job. 

“No, we’ll go back to Vermont, and have the time- 
field stuff I ordered installed, then go to Sirius, and 
see what they have. They moved their planets from 
the gravitational field of Negra, their dead, black star, 
to the field of Sirius — and I’d like to know how they 
did it. Then — Intergalactia.” He started the ship 
toward Vermont, while Morey got into communication 
with the field, and gave them a brief report. 

“We knew what had happened,” replied the Com- 
mander in charge at the field, “for there were ships out 
in space watching on the telectroscope. Relayed to us. 
But we didn’t know how it had been done. So you 
drilled through about a mile of solid rock. We need 
that machine. Don’t wreck it on the way up here!” 

CHAPTER XII 
Sirius 

T hey didn’t wreck it on the way up. They landed 
about half an hour later, and Arcot simply went 
into the cottage, and slept — with the aid of a 
light soporific. Morey and Wade finished the job of 
directing the disposition of the machines, while Dr. 
Arcot senior really finished the job. The machines 
would be installed in less than ten hours, for the com- 
plete plans Arcot and Morey had made, with the modern 
machines for translating plans to metal and lux had 
made the actual construction quick, while the large crew 
of men employed required but little time. 

When Arcot and his friends awoke, the machine was 
ready. They swam in the near-by lake a bit, ate, and 
made final preparations for departure. 

“Well, Dad, you have the plans for all the machines 
we have. I expect to be back in two weeks. In the 
meantime you might set up a number of ships with very 
heavy relux walls, walls that will stand rays for a while, 
and equip them with the rudimentary artificial matter 
machines you have, and go ahead with the work on the 
calculations. Thett will land other machines here — 
or on the moon. Probably they will attempt to ray 
the whole Earth. They won’t have concentration of 
ray enough to move the planet, or to seriously chill it. 
But life is a different matter^ — it’s sensitive. It is quite 
apt to let go even under a very mild ray. I think that 
a few exceedingly powerful ray screen stations might be 
set up, and the Heavyside Layer used to transmit the 
vibrations entirely around the Earth. You can see the 
idea easily enough. If you think it worth while — or 
better, if you can convince the thickheaded politicians 
of the Interplanetary Defence Commission that it is — . 

“Beyond that. I’ll see you in about two weeks,” Arcot 
turned, and entered the ship. 

“The question is,” he added a bit later, as the ship 
left Earth beneath, “Will I?” 

“At least you saw him then. I wish Dad had been 
able to get up. The Commission kept him too busy, 
and you kept me too busy,” remarked Morey, half rue- 
fully, half caustically. 

“I have no power to read the future with accuracy, 
Terrestrians,” interrupted Zezdon Afthen, who alone 
of the Ortolians had joined them at Vermont,” but I 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



179 



can read it to this extent: who has not his mind on the 
business in hand, does not long have himself upon it.” 

“True enough, Afthen. 

“Fll line up for Sirius and let go.” Arcot turned the 
ship now, for Earth was well behind, and lined it on 
Sirius, bright in the utter black of space. He pushed 
his control to *‘V2,” and the space closed in about them. 
Arcot held it there while the chronometer moved 
through six and a half seconds. Sirius was at a 
distance almost planetary in its magnitude from them. 
Controlling directly now, he brought the ship closer, till 
a planet loomed large before them — a large world, its 
rocky continents, its rolling oceans and jagged valleys 
white under the enormous energy-flood from the gigan- 
tic star of Sirius, twenty-six times more brilliant than 
our own sun. 

“That world is a world of young rivers. No river 
there has grown to a series of meanders, no river there 
has even flattened its valley! There are hundreds of 
igigantic waterfalls!” exclaimed Sel Felso Theu in sur- 
prise. “And yet there are rivers; there is rainfall! 
Certainly the planet can not be old with such a geologi- 
cal formation. 

“It’s old!” laughed Wade, “old as Earth. It is the 
planet Neptune, captured from our solar system by the 
Black Star as it passed a few years ago. The Negrians, 
as we called them, migrated here, and brought their 
old worlds to the new sun, and brought the new planet 
along. It had always been far from the sun, so far 
that water was continually locked up as ice, and the only 
rivers the planet knew were of liquid helium flowing 
to lakes of liquid helium, under an occasional snow- 
storm of hydrogen, or perhaps a little rain of the liquid 
hydrogen when the weather was unusually warm. It 
was cold out there. So cold that water never melted. 
The rivers of helium carved their way through moun- 
tains of ice and packed mountains of oxygen and 
nitrogen. 

“When the planet came here, the Sirians, or the old 
Negrians, moved it very near to the sun, and set it 
spinning very rapidly. The enormous flood of heat 
melted even the vast ice fields, probably in a few 
months, warmed the great mass of the planet through- 
out. Then they moved it back from the fire where 
they had thoroughly toasted it, let it cool to a com- 
fortable temperature, and finally placed it at this 
distance, as being the one most satisfactory for their 
purposes.” Wade pointed to the city, which had sud- 
denly leapt into view on the screen, as the ship, sink- 
ing close to the planet, swept over a mountain range. 
“There they are now — living on the new world. 

“But Arcot, hadn’t you better take it easy? They 
might take us for enemies — ^which wouldn’t be so good.” 

“I suppose it would be wise to go slowly. I had 
planned, as a matter of fact, on looking up a Thessian 
ship, taking a chance on a fight, and proving our 
friendship,” replied Arcot. 

“My friend, would it not be wiser, and easier, to 
simply tell them we are friends ?” asked Zezdon Afthen. 

“Oh — certainly! I forgot that we could communi- 
cate with them mentally from a distance. You had 
best tend to it Zezdon Afthen.” 

“But,” objected Morey, “I suspect that they won’t 
be so sure we are friends when we come with a relux 
ship, equipped with cosmic projectors, rays, screens, 
and molecular rays, and they probably already suspect 
us of wishing to attack them — ^they probably already 
suspect that Earth has attacked them. They attacked 
us — we attacked them. Right? Then how convince 
them we are friends? Go attack a Thessian?” 

Morey saw Arcot’s logic — ^then suddenly burst into 
laughter. “Absolutely — attack a Thessian, But since 
we don’t see any around now, we’ll have to make one!” 



M orey was completely mystified, and gave Arcot 
a doubtful, sarcastic look. “Sounds like a good 
idea, only I wonder if this constant terrific mental 
strain — " 

“Come along and find out!” Arcot threw the ship 
into artificial space for safety, holding it motionless. 
The planet, invisible to them, retreated from theie 
motionless ship. 

In the artificial matter control room, Arcot set to 
work, and developed a very considerable string of forms 
on his board, the equations of their formations requir- 
ing all the available formation controls. By the time he 
sat down to work, Morey just looked on; by the time 
he had set up the first, Morey aided him, and thereafter 
Wade was busy explaining to the Talsonian what Arcot 
intended. 

“Now,” said Arcot at last, “you stay here, Morey, 
and when I give the signal, create the thing back of the 
nearest range of hills, raise it, and send it toward 
us. Unfortunately we can’t — oh yes we can.” Some 
more work was done, a great deal more work, and it 
was fully half an hour before the new adjustments had 
been made. Then Arcot declared himself ready. 

At once they returned to normal space, and darted 
down toward the now distant planet. They landed again 
near another city, one which was situated close to a 
range of mountains ideally suited to their purposes. 
They settled, while Zezdon Afthen sent out the message 
of friendship. He finally succeeded in getting some 
reaction, a sensation of scepticism, of distrust — but of 
interest. They needed friends, and only hoped that 
these were friends. Arcot pushed a little signal but- 
ton, hnd Morey began his share of the play. From be- 
hind a low hill a slim, pointed form emerged, a beauti- 
fully streamlined ship, the lines obviously those of a 
Thessian, the windows streaming light, while the visi- 
ble ionization about the hull proclaimed its molecular 
ray screen. Instantly Zezdon Afthen, who had carefully 
refrained from learning the full nature of their plans, 
felt the intense emotion of the discovery, called out to 
the others, while his thoughts were flashed to the 
Sirians below. 

From the attacking ship, a body shot Muth tremendous 
speed, it flashed by, barely missing the Ancient Mariner, 
and buried itself in the hillside beyond. With a terrific 
explosion it burst, throwing the soil about in a tremen- 
dous crater. The Ancient Mariner spun about, turned 
toward the other ship, and let loose a tremendous bom- 
bardment of molecular and cosmic rays. A great flame 
of ionized air was the only result. A new ray reached 
out from the other ship, a fan-like spreading ray. It 
struck the Ancient Mariner, and did not harm it, 
though the hillside behind was suddenly withered and 
blackened, then smoking as the temperature rose. 

Another projectile was launched from the attacking 
ship, and exploded terrifically but a few hundred feet 
from the Ancient Mariner, The terrestrial ship rocked 
and swayed, and even the distant attacker rocked under 
the explosion. 

A projectile, glowing white, leaped from the earth- 
ship. It darted toward the enemy ship, seemed to 
barely touch it, then burst into terrific flames that 
spread, eating the whole ship, spreading glowing flame. 
In an instant the blazing ship slumped, started to fall, 
then seemingly evaporated, and before it touched the 
ground, was completely gone. 

The relief in Zezdon Afthen’s mind was genuine, and 
if was easily obvious to the Sirians that the winning 
ship was friendly, for, with all its frightful armament, 
it had downed a ship obviously of Thett, though not 
exactly like the others, it had the all too familiar lines. 

“They welcome us now,” said Zezdon Afthen’s mental 
message to his companions. 




180 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Tell them we’ll be there — with bells on or thoughts 
to that effect,” grinned Arcot. Morey had appeared in 
the doorway, smiling broadly. 

“How was the show?” he asked. 

“Terrible — Why didn’t you let it fall, and break 
open?” 

“What would happen to the wreckage as we moved?” 
he asked sarcastically. “I thought it was a darned good 
demonstration.” 

“It was convincing,” laughed Arcot. “They want us 
now!” 

The great ship circled down, landing gently just out- 
side of the city. Almost at once one of the slim, long 
Sirian ships shot up from a courtyard of the city, rac- 
ing out and toward the Ancient Mariner. Scarcely a 
moment later half a hundred other ships from all over 
the city were on the way. Sirians seemed quite hu- 
manly curious. 

“We’ll have to be careful here. We have to use alti- 
tude suits, as the Negrians breathe an atmosphere of 
hydrogen instead of oxygen,” explained Arcot rapidly 
to the Ortolian and the Talsonian who were to accom- 
pany him. “We will all want to go, and so, although 
this suit will be decidedly uncomfortable for you and 
Zezdon Afthen and Stel Felso Then, I think it wise that 
you all wear it. It will be much more convincing to the 
Sirians if we show that people of no less than three 
worlds are already interested in this alliance.” 

Stel Felso Theu, who had been looking at the head- 
piece, gigantic for his diminutive head, and the rest 
too small really for his heavy form, shrugged, and 
worked his way into the flopping, uncomfortable affair. 

“Why any race,” he commented good naturedly, 
“should develop their brains in such a poor, exposed 
place as the head, instead of the obviously more reason- 
able, better protected, better supported, and better nour- 
ished place like the hips, I don’t know. You have told 
me, Wade, that many animals of your world did, in 
pre-human times, carry their brains in the more obvious 
place. Why did they move them to so poor a place 
as the head? The blood vessels must go through the 
easily accessible neck, the neck has to be straightened, 
the nerves all lead to a place distant from every part of 
the body, instead of centralizing near the center — and 
now look, I must needs rattle my eye-case (his thought- 
form for head) about in this great casket.” His little 
face smiled cheerily, however, as he set the thin, strong, 
lux-metal helmet on his tremendous shoulders, and 
bolted it down. 

“And such diminutive creatures — how can I be ex- 
pected to wear so small a rag as this?” asked the huge 
Ortolian, pulling to stretch the elastic fabric about his 
great frame. 

“The easiest way to get out of that, Zezdon Afthen, 
is to make one of your own,” said Morey cheerfully 
bolting the headpiece on his shoulders. “Good luck!” 

“Good luck!” added Wade softly as the three filed 
into the airlock of the ship. “For luck it must be.” 

A considerable number of Sirian ships had landed 
about them, and the tall, slim men of the 100,000,000- 
year-old race were watching them with their great 
brown eyes from a slight distance, for a cordon of 
men with evident authority were holding them back. 
Their flesh, once so exceedingly pale, lighted as their 
planets had been only by the stars, developed only to the 
slight immunity from destructive photo-active rays 
that such an existence needed, had darkened now, under 
the terrifically active rays of Sirius to a deep tan ; they 
seemed a healthy, sturdy race now. 

“Who are you, friends?” asked a single man who 
stood within the cordon. He was tall, his strongly built 
frame, great high brow and broad head designating 
him a leader at a glance. 



Despite the vast change the light of Sirius had 
wrought, Arcot recognized in him the original of photo- 
graphs he had seen from the planet old Sol had cap- 
tured as Negra had swept past. So it was he who an- 
swered the thought-question. Though to the Sirian 
they had been words in his own tongue, to the terres- 
trian the thought-forms represented by his words had 
been clear English thought-forms. 

“I am of the third planet of the green-blue sun your 
people sought as a home a few years back in time, Taj 
Lamor. Because you did not understand us, and be- 
cause we did not understand you, we fought. We 
found the records of your old, old race on the planet 
our sun captured, and we know now what you most 
wanted. Had we been able to communicate with you 
then, as we can now, our people would never have 
fought. 

“At last you have reached that sun you so needed, 
thanks, no doubt, to the genius that was with you. 

“But now, in your new-found peace comes a new 
enemy, one who wants this sun, as you wanted ours, and 
wants not only yours, but every sun in this galaxy. 
Perhaps your people do not know all the plans these 
invaders have, but thanks to our allies, we have learned 
them, and we have learned of weapons with which we 
may fight them better than they can fight us. 

“You have tried your ray of death, the anti-catalyst? 
And it but sputters harmlessly on their screens? You 
have been swept by their terrible rays that fuse moun- 
tains, then hurl them into space? Our world and the 
world of each of these men is similarly menaced. It is 
not a menace to you, but a menace to this galaxy, and 
all who live on its planets. 

“See, here is Zezdon Afthen, a student of the laws 
of Nature from Ortol, planet of the star, Thil, far 
on the other side of the galaxy, and here is Stel Felso 
Theu, of the planet, Talso, of the Sun Renl. Their 
worlds, as well as yours and mine have been attacked 
by this menace from a distant galaxy, from Thett, of 
the sun Ansteck, of the galaxy Venone. 

“Now we must form an alliance of far wider scope 
than ever has existed before. 

“You have already discovered that this is a war 
of science. To you we have come, for your race is 
older by far than any race of our alliance. Your 
science has advanced far higher than any division of 
our present science. What weapons have you discov- 
ered among those ancient documents, Taj Lamor? We 
have one weapon that you no doubt need, perhaps. We 
have a screen, which will stop the rays of the molecule 
director apparatus. What have you to offer us?” 

“We need your help, man of the blue-green star, 
we need it badly,” was the reply. “We have been able 
to keep them from landing on our planets, but it has 
cost us much. They have landed on a planet we brought 
with us when we left the black star, but it is not in- 
habited. From this as a base they have made innumer- 
able attacks on us. We tried throwing the planet into 
Sirius. They merely left the planet hurriedly as it 
fell toward the star, and broke free from our attractive 
ray.” 

“The attractive ray! Then you have uncovered that 
secret?” asked Arcot eagerly. 

For long the men conferred, moving soon to the 
Ancient Mariner. Taj Lamor had some of his men bring 
a small attractive ray projector to the ship, and the 
“small” apparatus turned out to be nearly a thousand 
tons in weight, and some twenty feet long, ten feet wide 
and approximately twelve feet high. It was impossible 
to load the huge machine into the Ancient Mariner, so 
an examination was conducted on the spot, with instrui 
ments whose reading was intelligible to the Terrestrians 
operating it. Its principal fault lay in the fact that, de- 




182 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



spite the enormous energy of matter given out, the ma- 
chine still gobbled up such titanic amounts of energy 
before the attraction could be established, that a very 
large machine was needed. In swinging the planets, the 
ray was established, and so long as maintained, used no 
more power than was actually expended in moving the 
planet or other body. The power used while the ray 
was in action corresponded to the work done, but a tre- 
mendous power was needed to establish it, and this 
power could never be recovered. 

Further, no reaction was produced in the machine, 
no matter what body it was turned upon. In swing- 
ing a planet then, a space ship could be used as the 
base, for the reaction was not exerted on the machine. 

From such meager clues, and the instruments, 'plus 
tests on the energy storage coils, Arcot got the hints 
that lead him to the solution of the problem, for the 
documents, from which Taj Lamor had gotten his in- 
formation, had been disastrously wiped out, when one 
of their cities fell, and Taj Lamor had but copied the 
machines of his ancestors. 

T he immense value of these machines was evident, 
for they would permit Arcot to do many things 
that would have been impossible without them. The 
explanation as he gave it to Stel Felso Theu, foretold 
the uses to which it might be put. 

“As a weapon,” he pointed out, “its most serious fault 
is that it takes a considerable time to pump in the 
power needed. It has here, practically the same fault 
which the artificial matter had on your world.” 

“As I see it, the ray is actually directed gravita- 
tional field. Undirected, the mass attraction of sextil- 
lions of tons of matter is needed to produce an attract- 
ive force of one Earth-gravity at a distance of four 
thousand miles from its center of mass. 

“But if a spotlight-like ray is used instead — ?” 

“See; the mass of one proton is about 1.7 X 10'^* 
grams, its radius is approximately 2 X 10’*® centi- 
meters. That makes the surface gravity of that minute 
speck comparable in magnitude to that of earth — three 
centimeters per second per second. Earth’s is about 
nine hundred only. 

“But here is the advantage. You could add a second 
and a third and a fourth proton, and add the surface 
gravity of each to that. So if you put in the sending 
end of such a beam a gram molecular weight of hydro- 
gen, two grams of gas, with its 12 x 10^^ protons, you 
would have a combined gravity 4 X 10^'— times earth’s 
gravity ! A pound mass in that beam would weigh two 
quadrillion tons. 

“But actually their machine does not do just that. It 
consists of three parts really, three generating devices. 

“The first consists of a gravitational field projector. 
They create the gravitational field of a few milligrams 
of matter, without the matter. The more concentrated 
this field, the more powerful their final beam will be. 
This is created as a field in space, remember, an in- 
tegral, interwoven part in the titanic fabric of space, 
which Is really but the interacting gravitational fields 
of all the matter in the Universe. 

“Next they create a gravitational force-mirror. This 
requires enormous energy, as it is a peculiar space condi- 
tion which requires the establishment of an inverted 
space curvature. This varies in size with the beam, 
and here is where the enormous amounts of energy 
are poured. 

“The third, and final step, consists of the arrange- 
ment of these force-mirrors, by the action of a third 
set of devices. Then the gravitational field is built up 
by the machine, the minute attraction of this field is 
all directed in one path by the force mirrors, and be- 
cause the exact surface attraction of that field is pro- 



jected, the attractive power may be enormous, as I sug- 
gested in the case of protons. 

“Now here is one thing that makes it more interest- 
ing, and more useful. It seems to defy the laws of 
mechanics. It acts, but there is no apparent reaction! 
A small ship can swing a world ! Eemember, the field 
that generates the attraction is an integral, interwoven 
part of the mesh of Space, It is created by something 
outside of itself. Like the artificial matter, it exists 
there, and there alone. There is reaction on that at- 
tractive field, but it is created in Space at that given 
point, and the reaction is taken by all Space. No won- 
der it won’t move. 

“The work considerations are fairly obvious. The 
field is built up. That takes energy. The beam is 
focussed on a body, the body falls nearer, and imme- 
diately absorbs the energy in acquiring a velocity. The 
machine replenishes the energy, because it is set to 
maintain a certain energy-level in the field. Therefore 
the machine must do the work of moving the ship, just 
as though it were a driving apparatus. After the beam 
has done what is wanted, it may be shut off, and the 
energy in the field is now available for any work needed. 
It may be drained back into power coils such as ours 
for instance, or one might just spend that last iota of 
power on the job. 

“As a driving device it is delightful. No reaction, 
save on all Spave. Therefore a device in the nose of 
the ship might be set to pull the entire ship along, and 
still not have any acceleration detectable to the occu- 
pants. 

“I think we’ll use that on our big ship,” he finished, 
his eyes far away on some future idea. 

“Gravity, too, varies by the inverse square, quarter- 
ing the force at twice the range. But if the gravita- 
tional attraction of one unit be completely projected on 
a straight line, so that we get, say the surface attrac- 
tion of a proton — ! Who knows its value ? A proton’s 
mass is close to 1.7 X grams. Its radius is approxi- 
mately 2 X 10'*®. That makes the surface gravity — 
Good Lord! It’s close to the same order of magnitude 
of that of the Earth! It is, I think, about three cms 
per second per second. Earth is nine hundred. You’d 
have only one three-hundredth of your normal weight — 
if you could stand on one — but think of the infinitely 
minute size, and the tremendous numbers of such tiny 
masses obtainable. Then, if one unit has one three- 
hundredth, three hundred, rolled into one, would have 
Earth’s surface gravity. Eight ? If we could put some- 
thing up against that surface. 

“But if a single mole, or gram-molecular-weight of 
a substance has 6 x 10'^® molecules, or, in hydrogen, 
12 X 10‘2® protons per two grams of gas, we would 
have 4 x 10‘^^ tmes Earth’s surface gravit'y if we could 
thus get the surface of each of those protons!* 

“Natural gravity of natural matter is, luckily, not 
selective. It goes in all directions. But this artificial 
gravity is controlled so that it does not spread, and 
the result is that the mass-attraction of a mass of 
matter does not fall off as the inverse square of the 
distance, but like the ray from the parallel beam spot- 
light, continues undiminished. Thus the gravitational 
conditions existing at the surface of a proton exist, in 
a straight line, undiminished. Anywhere along the 
path of the ray, the conditions are those of the protons 
surface. 

“Actually, they create an exceedingly intense, ex- 
ceedingly small gravitational field, and direct it in a 
straight line. The building up of this field is what 
takes time. 

But say, Morey,” Arcot said suddenly turning to his 

♦4 X 1021=4,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times Earth^s gravity. One 
pound weight on earth would be two quadrillion tons in this ray I 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



183 



Sriend, I wonder if there isn’t a decided limit in the 
form of space-curving effects? Wouldn’t space curve 
so badly as to close in the ray?” 

“Certainly I” laughed his friend, “But what’s the 
value of the force-field that does that?” 

“Hmmm — ^so darned high you couldn’t make anything 
stand up in it.” 

“Precisely. 

“That ray has two excellent possibilities as a weapon. 
It can be used in a slightly diffused form, as they use 
it, to move bodies, or, if it can be concentrated indefi- 
nitely, it would simply draw everything together in so 
tiny a partical — it would simply bore a neat, round 
hole through anything.” 

“Including the apparatus that generated it,” added 
W^ade. 

“Then it can’t be intensified indefinitely, because the 
apparatus that does the work would be destroyed by the 
space strains around that field. Eemember, to make it 
directional, they have to change those space strains, 
and send them off at an angle.” Arcot was thinking 
aloud. 

All the men were silent for some time, and Zezdon 
Afthen, who had a question which was troubling him, 
looked anxiously at his friends. Finally he broke into 
their thoughts which had been too cryptically abbre- 
viated for him to follow, like the work of a professor 
solving some problem, his steps taken so swiftly and 
so abbreviated that their following was impossible to 
his students. 

“But how is it that the machine is not moved when 
exerting such force on some other body?” he asked 
at last. 

“Oh, the ray concentrates the gravitational force, and 
projects it. The actual strain is in space. It is space 
that takes the strain, but in normal cases, unless the 
masses are very large, no considerable acceleration is 
produced over any great distance. That law operates 
in the case of the pulled body ; it pulls the gravitational 
field as a normal field, the inverse-square law applying. 

“But on the other hand, the gravity-beam pulls with 
a constant force. 

“It might be likened to the light-pressure effects of 
a spotlight and a star. The spotlight would push the 
sun with a force that was constant, no matter what 
the distance, while the light pressure of the sun would 
vary as the inverse square of the distance, 

“But remember, it is not a body that pulls another 
body, but a gravitational field that pulls another. The 
field is in space. A normal field is necessarily attached 
to the matter that it represents, or that represents it as 
you prefer, but this artificial field has no connection in 
the form of matter. It is a product of a machine, and 
exists only as a strain in space. To move it you must 
move all space, since it, like artificial matter, exists 
only where it is created in space. 

“Do you see now why the law of action and reaction 
is apparently flouted? Actually the reaction is taken 
up by space,” 

Arcot rose, and stretched. Morey and Wade had been 
looking at him, and now they asked when he intended 
leaving for the intergalactic spaces. 

“Now, I think. We have a lot of work to do. At 
present we have the mathematics of the artificial mat- 
ter to carry on, and the math of the artificial gravity 
to develop. We gave the Sirians all we had on arti- 
ficial matter and on molaculars. 

“They gave us all they had-^which wasn’t much be- 
yond the artificial gravity, and a lot of work. At any 
rate, let’s go!” 

Once more the Ancient Mariner was to do her war- 
like work against the Glossians. 



CHAPTER xnr 
Attacked 

T he Ancient Mariner stirred, and rose lightly 
from its place beside the city. Up, up, up it 
climbed, in horizontal position. A number of 
small Sirian ships kept it company as it started out 
into space. 

Suddenly they seemed to stop, and at a common 
signal they dropped frantically toward the ground be- 
low, and toward the city. The city was suddenly show- 
ing a liveliness and activity that had not been displayed 
before. Arcot became suspicious, and snapped on the 
loud-speaker, giving sound access to the ship. In- 
stantly the whine of a siren-like apparatus became 
evident. Arcot “jumped” the ship several miles in a 
dive upwards under high acceleration. Then he looked 
about. Visible over the horizon now, and coming at 
terrific speed, were a fleet of seven Thessian ships. 

They must do their best to protect that city. Arcot 
turned the ship and called his decision to Morey. As 
he did so, one of the Thessian ships suddenly swerved 
violently, and plunged downward. The attractive ray 
was in action. It struck the rocks of Neptune, and 
plunged in. Half buried, it stopped. Stopped — and 
backed out! The tremendously strong relux and lux 
had withstood the blow, and these strange, inhumanly 
powerful men had not been injured! Of course the 
sharp turn had not bothered them, had not been felt, 
inasmuch as everything on the ship was affected equally, 
which caused the turn. 

But the ships were coming still. More slowly — but 
steadily. 

“They suffered thirty-three casualties in the crash, 
due to falling objects,” thought Afthen to his friends. 
“Which explains their caution,” replied Arcot. 

Two of the ships darted toward him simultaneously, 
flashing out molecular rays. The rays glanced off of 
Arcot’s screen already in place, but the tubes were 
showing almost at once that this could not be sustained. 
It was evident that the swiftly approaching ships would 
soon break down the shields. Arcot turned the ship 
and drove to one side as a cosmic reached out. His 
eyes went dead. 

He cut into artificial space, waited ten seconds, then 
cut back. The Thessians were searching for him. Sud- 
denly he gasped. The scene before him changed. It 
seemed a different world. The light was very dim, so 
dim he could scarcely see the images on the view plate. 
They were red, so exceeding deep a red that they were 
very near to black. Even Sirius, the flaming blue- 
white star was red, as deep a red as the objects about. 
The darting Thessian ships were moving quite slowly 
now, moving at a speed that was easy to follow. Their 
cosmics, before ionizing the air brilliantly red, were 
now dark. The instruments showed that the screen was 
no longer encountering serious loading, and, further, 
the load was coming in at a frequency harmlessly far 
down the radio-spectrum! 

Arcot stared in wide-eyed amazement. What could 
the Thessians have done that caused this change? He 
reached up and increased the amplification on the eyes 
to a point that made even the dim illumination suffi- 
cient. Wade was staring in amazement, too. 

“Lord! What an idea!” suddenly exclaimed Arcot. 
“Morey,” he called exultantly, “The fools haven’t 
thought of it. Increase it gradually. The trouble now 
is we get too high in the blue but we have amplifica- 
tion that should let us use the X-ray, and Sirius should 
be more generous!” 

Wade was staring at Arcot in equally great amaze- 
ment. “What’s the secret?” he asked. 




184 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Think, Wade, think!” replied Arcot joyously, and 
■went to work. He moved the Ancient Mariner up to 
the nearest Thessian ship, and as he did so the scene 
changed again. It became even gloomier, but what 
faint light there was changed now, and there was a 
curious violet shading to it. The sun had a strange 
red-blue cast. Arcot increased the amplification of the 
kino-view lamps. The scene shifted once more, and now 
it was lighted with a ghastly blue tint. The Thessian 
ships were motionless, blue-glinting ghost ships. They 
hung silently, motionless where they were. 

The Ancient Mariner was very close now. Arcot 
turned a molecular ray toward the ship, and the air 
immediately about the ship blazed in the characteristic 
reddish ionization of the Sirian atmosphere. But, ten 
feet from the ship, the ionization disappeared. The 
ray seemed stopped. But the Thessian ship became 
suddenly luminous in a large spot, with the character- 
istic shifting colors of disintegrating relux. In a 
short time, a time far shorter than was ordinarily re- 
quired to disintegrate a thickness of more than two 
inches, the six-foot wall was changed, and lux remained. 
Arcot shifted to a cosmic, and the terrible rays poured 
in through the gap. A man standing motionless in the 
room to one side of the gap suddenly exploded, and 
was gone in the roaring flame of cosmics. In an instant 
the entire inside of the ship was a blazing inferno of 
cosmic rays, reflected, re-reflected and again re-re-re- 
flected about the relux walls, drenching every atom of 
matter within under the destructive rays. 

The ship was blazing, the atomic fires of disintegrat- 
ing atoms spreading in the very air. It was unthinkable 
that anything could live in that section of the ship. But 
other sections — . 

Arcot’s molecular rays were going. There was a 
peculiar flash for a moment as the rays tore at the relux 
of the ship, stripping it to lux metal. The rays en- 
tered in a moment, and an instant later the cosmics 
were drenching that section of the ship also. 

A rcot had been paying very little attention to the 
. other Thessian ships, blue ghosts in the air, mo- 
tionless things. Suddenly he started, and drove his 
ship aside. One of the motionless ghosts had come to 
life! 

“Morey — they’ve got it — artificial matter,” called 
Arcot sharply. A wall of artificial matter, a disc that 
was precisely flat loomed before the Thessian ship. It 
struck it with terrific force. The ship crumpled and 
bent in on itself like a food can under a sledge hammer. 
The artificial matter disc became a cylinder, whose 
base was the disc. It formed another end, and the 
Thessian ship was closed in. The cylinder closed, 
shrank, till it was a very small thing. Then it released 
a small cylinder of something that floated gently, very 
gently, downward. 

“Try that on the other ships. Their screens won’t 
stop the stuff now !” called Arcot. 

Morey tried it. But that was all. The artificial mat- 
ter seemed to move through the ships without affecting 
them. 

“Wrong idea, Arcot. They won’t touch us, we can’t 
touch them, much less artificial matter. It gets there 
at the wrong time.” 

“The rays work,” replied Arcot. 

“Because they shift when they reach the border.” 
“What’s the secret, Arcot? I give up!” said Wade 
desperately. 

“Time, man, time ! We are in an advanced time plane, 
living faster than they, our atoms of fuel are destroyed 
faster, our second is shorter. In one second of our 
earthly time our generators do the same amount of 
work as usual, but they do many, many times more 



y^ork in one second of the time we were in! [We are 
tinder the advanced time field.” 

Quickly now Wade could see it all. The red light — 
normal light seen through eyes enormously speeded in 
all perceptions, the change, the dimness — dim because 
less energy reached them per second of their time. 
Then came this blue light, as they reached the X-ray 
spectrum of Sirius, and saw X-rays as normal light — 
shielded, tremendously shielded by the atmosphere, but 
the enormous amplification of the eyes made up for it. 

The ship that had been rayed had no doubt seen 
only a flash of molecular rays, a terrific flood of cosmics 
coming at a rate that bespoke a generator of unheard 
of proportions, apparently. The relux, flooded with an 
enormous energy of molecular ray frequency, broke 
down swiftly. Morey had re-tuned the rays for the 
time-rate to make them effective, but the artificial mat- 
ter operated on a different time-rate plane. It was 
matter, not light. 

Arcot found that only the rays were effective, and 
these were exceedingly hard to control, for the effec- 
tive of the time-field and gravitational field of the 
planet twisted them badly. The artificial matter would 
be effective if an enemy ship attempted to attack oif 
their time-plane, but not otherwise. 

Despite the difficulties, three more ships were rayed 
down before the remaining Thessians seemed to attain 
the idea simultaneously, and started for Arcot in his 
own time field. Already at close to the maximum 
speed safe near the planet, Arcot was forced to fight 
them in on their time frame now. Artificial matter 
got one ship as it entered the new frame, and the re- 
maining ship was in his time frame. His molecular 
equipment seemed of the best, and he was bent on 
putting it all into operation at once, as well as ramming 
the terrestrial ship. Arcot’s tubes heated swiftly, and 
though he tried the magnet, it failed. His own screen 
prevented the use of the artificial matter now, while 
the weakening screen was fatal. The Thessian ship 
seemed leaping at him. Suddenly, his speed increased 
inconceivably. Simultaneously, Arcot’s hand, already 
started toward the space-control switch, reached it, and 
pushed it to the point that threw the ship into artificial 
space. The last glimmer of light died suddenly, as the 
Thessian ship’s bow loomed huge beside the Ancient 
Mariner. 

There was a terrific shock that hurled the ship vio- 
lently to one side, threw the men about inside the ship, 
and a crash of pans, metal plates, loose articles of all 
sorts, supposedly tied down, rang through the ship. 

Simultaneously the lights blinked out, the air 
whished from the room, and the expansion cooled the 
remaining atmosphere uncomfortably before a special 
locking gate closed the door of every room, as the air 
pressure fell below normal in it. 

Light returned as the automatic emergency incan- 
descent lights in the room, fed from an energy storage 
coil, flashed on abruptly. The men were white-faced, 
tense in their positions. Swiftly Morey was looking 
over the indicators on his remote-reading panel, while 
Arcot stared at the few dials before the actual control 
board. 

“Power room flooded with cosmics. Gone,” snapped 
Morey. Arcot had opened the power switch. “From 
the generator. The power coils are still functioning, 
we’re in artificial space. There’s an air pressure out- 
side the ship!” he cried out in surprise. “High oxy- 
gen, very little nitrogen, breathable apparently, pro- 
vided there are no poisons. Temperature ten below 
zero C. 

“Lights are off because relays opened when the crash 
short-circuited them.” Morey and the entire group 
were suddenly shaking. They could scarcely hold them- 




185 



INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



selves still, as their muscles jumped and quivered so. 

“Nervous shock,” commented Zezdon Afthen, his 
thoughts strangely distorted ; shaky one might say. “It 
will be an hour or more before we will be in condition 
to work.” 

“Can’t wait,” replied Arcot testily, his nerves on edge, 
too. “When the ship was struck, curiously, I was calm 
enough, and didn’t even think about what might happen 
to us; my only thoughts were what was happening to 
my pet ship. Morey, get some good strong coffee if 
you can, and we’ll waste a little air on some smokes.” 

Morey rose and went to the door that lead through 
[the main passage to the galley. “Heck of a job — no 
weight at all,” he muttered. “There is air in the pas- 
sage, anyway.” He opened the door, and the air rushed 
from the control room to the passage till the pressure 
was equalized. The door to the power room was shut, 
but it was bulged, despite its two-inch lux metal, and 
through its clear material he could see the wreckage 
of the power room. “Arcot,” he called, “Come here and 
look at the power room. Quintillions of miles from 
home, and probably infinitely distant, for we can’t shut 
off this field now.” Arcot was with him in a moment. 
The tremendous mass of the nose of the Thessian ship 
had caught them full amidship, and the powerful ram 
had driven through the room. It had, by a miracle, 
missed the molecular tubes, so that they had continued 
to function until Arcot shut them off. Their lux walls 
had not been touched, and only a sledge-hammer blow 
, would have bent them under any circumstances, let 
alone breaking them. But the tremendously powerful 
main generator was split wide open. Through a great 
rent in its side the cosmics had poured out into the 
room, and though all vital machinery had been shielded 
in relux, some of the lesser apparatus around the room 
had been burned. But the mechanical damage was the 
main item. The prow of the ship had been driven deep 
into the machine, and the power room was a wreck. 
Half of the tremendous leads were cut, and the huge 
power leads that carried the power to and from the 
auxiliary storage coils were cut. The main coil was 
charged, and would stay charged till they drained it. 

“And,” pointed out Morey,” we can’t handle a job 
like that. It will take a tremendous amount of ma- 
chinery back on a planet to work that stuff, and we 
couldn’t bend that bar, let alone fix it. We’d have to 
put both ends together, then run new relux into a 
mold, and let it knit under the K-4Z field. We can’t 
make a K-4Z field without apparatus, and we haven’t 
the apparatus, nor the wherewithal to make the darned 
stuff.” 

“Get the coffee, will you please, Morey? I have an 
idea that’s bound to work,” said Arcot looking fixedly 
at the machinery. 

Morey turned and went to the galley. In a few 
minutes he reported that the electric stove Vi'as useless, 
but that he was trying to work it on his pocket cosmic 
ray projector. He took out the power storage coil, 
and with some difficulty made a contact between the 
metal wires of the stove and the relux leads of the 
storage coil. The more than a million watt-hours 
stored in the tiny coil, no larger than his fist, solved the 
problem. In a short time the coffee, which had simply 
spread itself about the walls of the closed pot, was hot. 
The pressure was mounting rapidly, and Morey turned 
off the current. A small petcock opened in the side, and 
the coffee spouted out in a stream under the pressure of 
the water. It promptly rebounded from the bottom of 
the cup, and shot all around the room. Morey cursed 
and dropped the cup. It shot away under the impetus 
of the stream of coffee. Morey shut off the coffee, and 
cursed some more, nervously. Wade appeared, and took 
in the scene at a glance. 



F ive minutes later they returned to the corridor, 
where Arcot stood still, looking fixedly at the en- 
gine room. They were carrying small rubber balloons 
jvith coffee in them. 

They drank the coffee and returned to the control 
room, and sat about, the terrestrians smoking peace- 
fully, the Ortolian and the Talsonian satisfying them- 
selves with some form of mild narcotic from Ortol, 
which Zezdon Afthen introduced. 

“Ah — . Arcot, I never knew what a smoke was for, 
till now,” said Wade gratefully as he puffed out a blue- 
grey streamer of the fine, fragrant Venerian-grown 
tobacco smoke. 

“Well, we have a lot more to do. The air-apparatus 
stopped working a while back, and I don’t want to sit 
around doing nothing while the air in the storage tanks 
is used up. Did you notice our friends, the enemy?” 
Through the great pilot’s window the bulk of the Thes- 
sian ship’s bow could be seen. It was cut across with 
an exactitude of mathematical certainty. The surfaces 
were so absolutely true that they shone with definite, 
sharp images. 

“Easy to guess what happened,” Morey grinned. 
“They may have wrecked us, but we sure wrecked them. 
They got half in and half out of our space field. Re- 
sult — ^the half that was in, stayed in. The half that 
was out stayed out. The two halves were instantane- 
ously a billion miles apart, and that beautifully exact 
surface represents the point our space cut across. They 
apparently passed out with a bang, the air left them — 
er — not flat exactly, from what I have seen elsewhere. 
I suspect that they can’t use their space suits in the 
ship when in battle because they are so heavy and 
clumsy that delicate, quick work can’t be done in them. 
In an actual battleship I susi)ect they carry only the 
necessary working crew. That accounts for the air 
pressure outside. But it certainly must be tremendous 
to fill the space of this artificial space of ours so full! 

“That being decided, the next question is how to fix 
this poor old wreck ?” Morey grinned a bit, “Better, ho\y 
to get out of here, and down to old Neptune?” 

“Fix it!” replied Arcot. “Come on; you get in your 
space suit, take the portable telectroscope and set it up 
in space, motionless, in such a position that it views 
both our ship, and the nose of the Thessian machine, 
will you Wade? Tune it to — seven-seven-three.” Morey 
rose with Arcot, and followed him, somewhat mystified, 
down the passage. At the air-lock Wade put on his 
space suit, and the Ortolian helped him with it. Iii 
a moment the other three men appeared bearing the 
machine. It was naturally practically weightless, 
though it would fall slowly if left to itself, for the 
mass of the Ancient Mariner and the front end of the 
Thessian ship made a considerable attractive field. But 
it was clumsy, and needed guiding here in the ship. 

Wade took it into the air-lock, and a moment later 
into space with him. His hand molecular-driving unit 
pulling him, he towed the machine into place, and with 
some difficulty got it practically motionless with respect 
to the two bodies, which were now lying against each 
other. 

“Turn it a bit, Wade, so that the Ancient Mariner 
is just in its range,” came Arcot’s thoughts. Wade did 
so. “Come on back and watch the fun.” 

Wade returned. Arcot and the others were busy 
placing a heavy emergency lead from the storeroom in 
the place of one of the broken leads. In five minutes 
they had it fixed where they wanted it. 

“But,” objected Wade, “that’s just a laboratory lead. 
How come?” The Talsonian looked at it thoughtfully 
a moment, then suddenly his face brightened. 

“I think,” he commented thoughtfully, '“that Arcot 
has a very, very strong hand.” 




186 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“He has — now,” grinned Morey. “Just watch dumb- 
bell.” 

Into the control room went Arcot, and started the 
power-room teleview plate. Connected into the system 
of viewplates, the scene was visible now on all the plates 
in the ship. Well off to one side of the room, pre- 
pared for such emergencies, and equipped with indi- 
vidual power storage coils that would run it for several 
days, the viewplate functioned smoothly. 

“Now, we are ready,” said Arcot. The Talsonian 
proved he understood Arcot’s intentions by preceding 
him to the laboratory. 

Arcot had two viewplates operating here. One was 
covering the scene as shown by the machine outside, 
and the other showed the power, room. 

“Oh,” muttered Wade sheepishly. Arcot stepped over 
to the artificial-matter machine, and worked swiftly on 
it. In a moment the power from the storage coils of 
the ship was flowing through the new cable, and into 
the machine. A huge ring appeared about the nose 
of the Thessian ship, fitting snugly over it, A terrific 
wrench — and it was free of the Ancient Mariner. The 
ring contracted, but through the relux, and formed a 
chunk of the stuff free of the broken nose of the ship. 

It was carried over to the wall of the Ancient 
Mariner, a smaller piece snipped off as before, and 
carried inside. A piece of perhaps half a ton mass. 
“I hope they use good stuff,” grinned Arcot. The piece 
was deposited on the floor of the ship, and a disc formed 
of artificial matter plugged the hole in its side. Another 
took a piece of the relux from the broken Thessian 
ship, and pushed it into the hole on the ship. Suddenly 
the meters of the artificial-matter machine ran up 
enormously. The space about the scene of operation 
was a crackling inferno of energy breaking down into 
heat and light. Arcot dematerialized his tremendous 
tools, and the wall of the Ancient Mariner was neatly 
patched with relux, smoothed over as perfectly as be- 
fore. A second time, using some of the relux he had 
brought within the ship, and the inner wall was re- 
built. The job was absolutely perfect, save that now, 
where there had been lux, there was an outer wall of 
relux. 

The main generator was crumpled up, and torn out. 
The auxiliary generators would have to carry the load. 
The great cables were swiftly repaired in the same 
manner, a perfect cylinder forming about them, and 
a piece of relux from the store Arcot had sliced from 
the enemy ship, welding them perfectly under enormous 
pressure, pressure that made them flow perfectly into 
one another as heat alone could not. 

In less than half an hour the ship was patched up, 
the power room generally repaired, save for a few 
minor things that had to be replaced from the stores. 
The main generator was gone, but that was not an 
essential. The door was straightend and the job done. 

In an hour they were ready to proceed. 

CHAPTER XIV 
Intergalactic Space 

“T'TTELL, Sirius has retreated a bit,” observed 
‘ W Arcot. The star was indeed several trillions 

" ” of miles away. Evidently they had not been 
motionless as they had thought, but the interference 
of the Thessian ship had thrown their machine off. 

This was not the true explanation, as they later 
learned to their sorrow, but it was the one that occurred 
to their minds as the most natural. Their apparatus, 
designed for rapid travel, had hurled them through 
space. That seemed natural. But the true explanation 
—-how could they have guessed it? 



“Shall we go back, or go on?” asked Morey. 

“The ship works. Why return?” asked Wade. “I vote 
we go on.” 

“And so say I,” added Arcot. 

“If they who know most of the ship vote for a con- 
tinuance of the journey, then assuredly we who know 
so little can only abide by their judgment. Let us con- 
tinue,” said Zezdon Afthen gravely. 

“She behaves QAR, Arcot?” asked Morey. 

“Perfectly.” 

“Then let’s go on. We have no reason to return to 
Sirius.” 

Space was suddenly black about them. Sirius was 
gone, all the jewels of the heavens were gone in the 
black of swift flight. Ten seconds later Arcot lowered 
the space-control. Black behind them the night of space 
was pricked by points of light, the infinite multitude of 
the stars. Before them lay — nothing. The utter empti- 
ness of space between the galaxies. 

“Thlek Styrs! What happened?” asked Morey in 
amazement, his pet Venerian phrase rolling out in his 
astonishment. 

“Tried an experiment, and it was overly successful,” 
replied Arcot, a worried look on his face. “I tried 
combining the Thessian high speed time distortion with 
our high speed space distortion — both on low power. 
‘There ain’t no sich animals.’ as the old agriculturist 
remarked of the giraffe. God knows what speed we 
hit, but it was plenty. We must be ten thousand light 
years beyond the galaxy.” 

“That’s a fine way to start the trip. You have the 
old star maps to get back by, however, have you not?” 
asked Wade. 

“Yes, the maps we made on our first trip out this way 
are in the cabinet. Look ’em up, will you, and see 
how far we have to go out before we reach the cosmic 
fields?” 

Arcot was busy with his instruments, making a more 
accurate determination of their distance from the 
“edge” of the galaxy. He adopted the figure of twelve 
thousand five hundred light years as the probable best 
result. Wade was back in a moment with the informa- 
tion that the fields lay about sixteen thousand light 
years out. Arcot went on, at a rate that would reach 
the fields in two hours. In the meantime the Ter- 
restrians took a nap, while the tireless Talsonian 
watched the ship. 

At the end of an hour and fifty minutes Arcot was 
violently awakened by striking the side of his room. 
The relux window screens were up, and he could not see 
out, but he knew what was happening. He drove for 
the controls, reached them without being throvra against 
the wall but four times, and shut off the space control. 
The ship continued to lurch, but not as badly. On the 
time control, which he applied for an instant, the ship 
lurched even more violently. The molecular control 
backed them out in less than an hour, to a point where 
the pitching was slight. In the meantime both the 
Ortolian and the Talsonians were made most desperately 
sick by the motion. Then Morey, Arcot and Wade 
set to work with the Talsonian scientist on their instru- 
ments. For several hours they worked steadily. They 
retreated further, and took more readings. Then, 
throwing the combined time and space control on full 
power for an instant, they drove forward. They were 
again moving smoothly, after a single violent jerk, but 
the galaxy was so far behind, it was a point. 

“It works — but it works too well. We’ll have to go 
back — ^by careful maneuvering,” said Arcot drily. “The 
double drive was not a thing to use for going home 
evenings. Unless your home was somewhere in the 
next galaxy.” 

“It seems, Arcot, that we could reach Andromeda M 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



187 



31 at 1,000,000 light years more quickly than we could 
reach England at 3000 miles,” laughed Wade. 

"Laugh now — but tell me how to get back there in 
less than an hour,” commented Arcot looking at the 
rear viewplate. 

N evertheless he swung the ship about, re- 
versed the actual motion, and started it back on 
the molecular drive, and threw it into the space-drive, 
with a touch of the time-drive. A minute later he took 
the two off. They were 50,000 light years from the 
galaxy. Proceeding slowly now, he soon ran into the 
invisible cosmic field at 43,000 light years. 

Here, several hours more were spent in measure- 
ments, till at last Arcot announced himself satisfied, 
"Good enough — ^back we go.” Again in the control 
room, he threw on the drive, and shot through the 
twenty-seven thousand light years of cosmic ray fields, 
and then more leisurely returned to the galaxy. The 
star maps were strangely off. They could follow them, 
but only with difficulty as the general configuration of 
the constellations that were their guides were visibly 
altered to the naked eye. 

"Morey,” said Arcot softly, looking at the constella- 
tion at which they were then aiming, and at the map 
before him, “there is something very, very rotten. I 
won’t say it’s in the State of Denmark; that doesn’t 
exist any more, and, anyhow, it’s too far off. But the 
Universe either ‘ain’t what it used to be’ or we have 
traveled in more than space,” 

“I know it, and I agree with you. Obviously, from 
the degree of alteration of the constellations, we are 
off by about 100,000 years. Question: which way, early 
or late? Question; how come? Question: what are we 
going to do about it?” 

"Answer one: we can determine by determining the 
direction of relative motion of those stars, but not 
necessarily their magnitudes. Or, we can return to 
Earth and determine there. 

"Answer two: remembering what we observed in re 
Sirius, I suspect that the interference of that Thessian 
ship, with its time-field opposing our space-field did 
things to our time-frame. We were probably thrown 
off then. 

"As to the third question, we have to determine num- 
ber one first. Then we can plan our actions.” 

With Wade’s help, and by coming to rest near several 
of the stars, then observing their actual motions, they 
were actually able to determine their time-status. The 
estimate they made finally was of the order of eighty 
thousand years in the past! The Thessian ship had 
thrown them eighty thousand years out of their time. 

"This isn’t all to the bad,” said Morey with a sigh,” 
We at least have all the time we could possibly use to 
determine the things we want for this fight. We might 
even do a lot of exploring for the archeologists of Earth 
and Venus and Ortol and Talso. As to getting back— 
that’s a question.” 

"Which is,” added Arcot, "easy to answer now, thank 
the good Lord. All we have to do is wait for our time 
to catch up with us. If we just wait eighty thousand 
years, eight hundred centuries, we will be in our own 
time.” 

“Oh, I think waiting so long would be boring,” said 
Wade sarcastically, “What do you suggest we do in 
the intervening eighty millenniums? Play cards?” 

“Oh, cards or chess. Something like that,” grinned 
Arcot, "Play cards, calculate our fields — and turn on 
the time rate control.” 

"Oh — I take it back. You win! Take all! I forgot 
all about that,” Wade smiled at his friend. “That will 
save a little waiting, won’t it.” 

“The exploring of our worlds would without doubt 



be of infinite benefit to science, but I wonder if it would 
not be of more direct benefit if we were to get back to 
our own time, alive and well. Accidents always happen, 
and for all our weapons, we might easily meet some 
animal which would put an abrupt and tragic finish to 
our explorations. Is it not so ?” asked Stel Felso Then. 

“I knew nothing of the animals of your world, and 
little at the actual time, of the life of my world, but in 
the past, before History was invented, there were ani- 
mals on my world which would probably have required 
more killing than one could readily give them,” added 
Zezdon Fentes. 

“Your point is good, Stel Felso Theu. I agree with 
you. We will do no more exploring than is necessary, 
or safe.” 

“We might just as well travel slowly on the time re- 
tarder, and work on the way, save that in that case 
someone has to keep an eye on the screens. I think the 
thing to do is to go back to Earth, or better, the solar 
system, and follow the sun in its path.” 

‘‘Follow the sun in its lonely, awesome journey 
through the eighty thousand years that we have been 
hurled through time, follow it through a single, instan- 
taneous flash of its eon-long journey through infinite 
time and infinite space,” added Morey softly. “Through 
the utter desolation of absolute cold that forever saps 
its energy.” 

They returned, and the desolation that the sun in 
its journey passes through is nothing to the utter, op- 
pressive desolation of empty space between the stars, 
for it has its family of planets — and it has no conscious 
thought. 

The Sun was far from the point that it had occupied 
when the travelers had left it, billions on billions of 
miles, for every hour sees it close to forty thousand 
miles further on its journey around the gravitational 
center of our galactic universe, and in the eighty mil- 
lenniums that they must wait, it would go far. 

They did not go to the planets now, for, as Arcot 
said in reply to Stel Felso Then’s suggestion that they 
determine more accurately their position in time, life 
had not yet developed to an extent that would enable 
them to determine the year according to our calendar. 

So for thirty thousand years they hung motionless 
as the sun moved on, and the little spots of light, that 
were worlds, hurled about it in a mad race. Even Pluto, 
in its three-hundred-year-long track seemed madly gy- 
rating beneath them ; Mercury was a line of light, as it 
swirled about the swiftly moving sun. 

But that thirty thousand years was thirty days to 
the men of the ship. Their time rate immensely re- 
tarded, they worked on their calculations. At the end 
of that month Arcot had, with the help of Morey and 
Wade, worked out the last of the formulas of artificial 
matter, and the machines had turned out the last graph- 
ical function of the last branch of research that they 
could discover. It was a time of labor for them, and 
they worked almost constantly, stopping occasionally 
for a game of some sort to relax the nervous tension. 

AT the end of that month they decided that they 
x\ would go to Earth, not hoping to find life, but 
hoping to find relaxation. 

They speeded their time rate now, and flashed toward 
Earth at enormous speed that brought them within 
the atmosphere in minutes. They had landed in the 
valley of the Nile. Arcot had suggested this as a 
means of determining the advancement of life of man. 
Man had evidently established some of his earliest civili- 
zations in this valley where water and sun for his food 
plants were assured. 

“Look — there are men here!” exclaimed Wade. In- 
deed, below them were villages, of crude huts made of 




188 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



timber and stone and mud. Eubblework walls, for they 
needed little shelter here, and the people were but savages 
at this time, fifty thousand years before our histories. 

“Shall we land?” asked Arcot, his voice a bit unsteady, 
with suppressed excitement. 

“Of course!” replied Morey, without turning from 
his station at the window. Below them now, less than 
half a mile down on the patchwork of the Nile valley, 
men were standing, staring up, collecting in little 
groups, gesticulating toward the strange thing that had 
materialized in the air above them, a great, shining 
thing, a thing for which there were no words in their 
language and no thoughts in their minds. A thing 
unheard of. 

“Does every one agree that we land?” asked Arcot. 

There were no dissenting voices, and the ship sank 
gently toward a road below and to the left. A little knot 
of watchers broke, and they fled in terror as the great 
machine approached, crying out to their friends, casting 
affrighted glances at the huge, shining monster behind 
them. 

Without a jar the mighty weight of the ship touched 
the soil of its native planet, touched it fifty millenniums 
before it was made, five hundred centuries before it 
left! 

“There is one thing puzzles me — I can’t see how we 
can come back. Don’t you see, Morey, we have dis- 
turbed the lives of those people, we have affected his- 
tory. Either this was ordained — it must be that, in 
our right time the effect of this call was ordained, had 
already been felt. This must be written into the history 
that exists. 

“This call seems to banish the idea of free thought. 
Think, if we were not intended, forced, to come here, 
we would have changed history, yet history is that 
which is already done ! 

“Had I never been born, had — ^but I was already — I 
existed fifty-eighty thousand years before I was born!” 
exclaimed Arcot. 

“Let’s go out and think about that later. We’ll go 
to a psychopathic hospital, if we don’t stop thinking 
about problems of space and time for a little while. We 
need some kind of relaxation.” 

“I suggest that we take our weapons with us. These 
men may have weapons of chemical nature, such as 
poisons injected into the flesh on small sticks hurled 
either by a spring device or by pneumatic pressure of 
the lungs,” said Stel Felso Theu as he rose from his 
seat, unstrapping himself. 

“Arrows and blow-guns we call 'em. But it’s a good 
idea, Stel Felso, and I think we will,” replied Arcot, 
“Let’s not all go out at once, and the first group to go 
out goes out on foot, so they won’t be scared off by 
our flying around.” 

Arcot, Wade, Zezdon, Afthen, and Stel Felso Theu 
went out. The natives had retreated to a respectful 
distance, and were now standing about, looking on, 
chattering to themselves. They were edging nearer, 

“Growing bold,” grinned Wade. 

“It is the characteristic of intelligent races mani- 
festing itself — curiosity,” pointed out Stel Felso Theu. 

“Are these the type of men still living in this valley, 
or who will be living there in fifty thousand years?” 
asked Zezdon Afthen. 

“I’d say they weren’t Egyptians as we know them, 
but typical Neolithic men. See, their clothing consists 
of rough hides, stinking hides I might say. How do 
they stand it? Yet they are intelligent looking. It 
seems they have brains fully as large as some of the 
men I see on the streets of New York. I wonder if 
they have the ability to learn as much as the average 
man of — say about 1950? That was just shortly before 
men began to grow tall. 



“You know, Zezdon Afthen, I am not unusually tall, 
nor is Morey unusually tall for our race, yet we are 
both well over six feet. Morey is nearly six and one- 
half feet tall. In 1950, less than two hundred years 
ago, a man of that height would have loomed over the 
crowd enormously. A man of six feet even, would 
have stood out in the crowd. A man of six feet then 
would have been able to look over the heads of most of 
the people in a crowd about him, for the average height 
of the men of New York City was of the order of five 
feet six. Now Morey with his six-six is not outstand- 
ing. And remember that a large man has a large head, 
of necessity.” Arcot was warming up on one of his 
pet topics, but the Neolithic men were also warming 
up. There was an orator among them, and his grunts, 
growls, snorts and gestures were evidently affecting 
them. They had sent the women back (by the simple 
and direct process of sweeping them up in one arm 
and heaving them in the general direction of home). 
The men were brandishing polished stone knives and 
axes, various instruments of war and peace. One fa- 
vorite seemed to be a large club. 

“Let’s forestall trouble,” suggested Arcot. He drew 
his cosmic ray pistol, and turned it on the ground di- 
rectly in front of them, and about half way between 
them and the Neoliths. A streak of the soil about two 
feet wide flashed into intense radiation under the im- 
pact of millions on millions of horsepower of radiant 
energy. Further, it was fused to a depth of twenty 
feet or more, and intensely hot still deeper. The Neo- 
liths took a single look at it, then turned, and raced 
for home. 

“Didn’t like our looks. Let’s go back.” 

They wandered about the world, investigating vari- 
ous peoples, and proved to their own satisfaction that 
there was no Atlantis, not at this time at any rate. 
But they were interested in seeing that the polar caps 
extended much further toward the equator; they had 
not retreated at that time to the extent that they had 
by the opening of history. 

They secured some fresh game, an innovation in their 
larder, and a welcome one. Then the entire ship was 
swept out with fresh, clean air, their water tanks 
were filled with water from the cold streams of the 
melting glaciers. The air apparatus was given a new 
stock to work over. The principle of this apparatus 
was the principle of nature’s apparatus on Earth. The 
carbon dioxide was absorbed in water as the air was 
forced through under great pressure. Collected thus, 
it was also an effective system for washing the air free 
of dust and impurities. 

The carbon dioxide was now collected and electrolyzed 
in a solution prepared for this purpose. The oxygen 
was freed, the carbon collected. Some water must be 
electrolyzed also, but the greater part of the oxygen 
replacement came from the oxygen tanks, where the 
gas was stored under such enormous pressure that it 
was denser than aluminum. Aluminum tended to float 
in the air! 

Their supplies in a large measure restored, thousands 
of aerial photographic maps made, they returned once 
more to space to wait. 

Their time was taken up for the most part by actual 
work on the enormous mass of calculation necessary. It 
is inconceivable to the layman what tremendous labor 
is involved in the development of a single new theory, 
and a concrete illustration of it was the long time, 
with tremendously advanced calculating machines, that 
was required in their present work. 

T hey had worked out the problem of the time-field, 
but there they had been aided by the actual appara-, 
tus, and the possibilities of making direct tests on ma- 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



189 



chines already set up. The problem of artificial matter, 
at length fully solved, was a different matter. This 
had required within a few days of a month (by their 
clocks; close to thirty thousand years of Earth’s time), 
for they had really been forced to develop it all from 
the beginning. In the small improvements Arcot had 
instituted in Stel Felso Theu’s device, he had really 
merely followed the particular branch that Stel Felso 
Theu had stumbled upon. Hence it was impossible to 
determine with any great variety, the type of matter 
created. Now, however, Arcot could make any known 
kind of matter, and many unknown kinds. 

But now came the greatest problem of all. They were 
ready to start work on the data they had collected in 
space. 

“What,” asked Zezdon Afthen, as he watched the 
three terrestrians begin their work, “is the nature of 
the thing you are attempting to harness?” 

“In a word, energy,” replied Arcot, pausing. 

“We are attempting to harness energy in its primeval 
form, in the form of a space-field. Remember, mass is 
a measure of energy. Two centuries ago a scientist 
of our world proposed the idea that energy could be 
measured by mass, and proceeded to prove that the 
relationship w'as the now firmly intrenched formula E 
= Mc“. Energy of any mass equals the product of that 
mass times the velocity of light squared, all units in 
the same measurement system. That applies whether 
we use the terrestrial system of centimeter-gram-sec- 
ond, your system of steh-rensl-kwuns or Stel Felso’s 
system of thels-meles-gerds. It is true, and the reason 
is that all energy is represented, or better is a field in 
space. All energy has mass, all energy has a field in 
space. If it be the energy of matter, it is represented 
by the gravitational field; if it be chemical energy — 
the reacting substances do weigh a minute amount more 
before than after the reaction in the case of an exother- 
mic reaction. 

“The sun is giving off energy. It is giving off mass, 
then, in the form of light photons. The field of the 
sun’s gravity must be constantly decreasing as its mass 
decreases. It is a collapsing field. It is true, the sun’s 
gravitational field does decrease, by a minute amount, 
despite the fact that our sun loses a thousand million 
tons of matter every four minutes. The percentage 
change is minute, but the energy released is — im- 
measurable. 

“But, I am going to invent a new power unit, Afthen. 
I will call it the ‘sol,’ the power of a sun. One sol is the 
rating of our sun. And I will measure the energy I 
use in terms of sunpowers, not horsepower. That may 
tell you of its magnitude ! 

“You know what a transformer is, do you not? It is 
a device in which one coil, the primary, builds up a 
magnetic field, while a second coil, the secondary, taps 
that changing space-field, or commonly, magnetic field, 
and takes that energy that it needs for itself. When 
the primary now lets the field fall, or collapse, the sec- 
ondary again taps the field. The energy which the pri- 
mary stored in space as a space-field, was tapped by the 
secondary, and energy which would have been available 
for the primary, was taken by the secondary. 

“Yet remember that no matter how great the energy 
field of the primary coil, so long as it is not changing, 
the secondary coil cannot tap it, a collapsing field, or of 
course a rising field, is needed. 

“Now a gravitational field represents energy, surely 
you will not question that. A collapsing gravitational 
field means a withdrawal of stored energy. The sun’s 
field is collapsing, and the stored energy appears as 
light. 

“A sun, or star, is not merely a lump of matter, a 
mere collection of atoms that stays helpless there, a 



piece of hot clay. A sun is a machine, a titanic, marvel- 
ously ingenious machine, a transformer on a scale in- 
conceivable, a thing of forces, immense forces balanced 
and counterbalanced to the minutest detail. It is a 
transformer so huge that driblets and chips that may 
break from it form worlds, a transformer so huge that 
floods of energy may pass through it at such a rate that 
space itself is strained in the bearing of its power- 
loads. A star is a huge induction coil, in which energy 
is stored, an amount of energy which one may put down 
in cold figures, and still have no meaning. It is a very 
nearly perfect storage coil, but like most storage ap- 
paratus it leaks, just a trifle, a fraction of a percentage 
so small that in two billion years that our planets have 
existed, no appreciable change in that energy has taken 
place. Wouldn’t you say it was a perfect storage ma- 
chine? The sun is like a huge transformer in many 
ways. You know the bigger they are, the more efficient 
they are. Some of the biggest ones run better than 
99%, and still waste 10,000 kilowatt time units. 

“But the point of all this is that the sun represents an 
energy field in space, and further, a collapsing energy 
field in space. Now, from our experience with other 
collapsing fields, it would seem reasonable that some 
Boi't of collector could be devised that would tap this 
energy field just as the sun itself does, but it would be 
a secondary coil! That is, we could hook our wagon 
to a star — literally and directly! Make a star supply 
the power, and better than that too, for here is the 
stupendous thing, every star in the universe is doing 
exactly the same thing! Every star represents a col- 
lapsing energy-field, so the entire galaxy represents a 
collapsing energy field ! Five hundred thousand million 
stars, five hundred thousand million power plants, every 
one of them destroying, on the average, one thousand 
million tons of matter each four minutes, two hundred 
and fifty million tons a minute. That’s a grand total 
of one hundred and twenty-five thousand thousand 
million million tons of matter a minute.* 

“I could carry that on into horsepower, but even if 
I did, it would just be a huge power. You probably 
appreciate what that means though. Infinite power, the 
power of all the universe, no power can be greater, for 
any other power source must be the destruction of 
matter, and our hypothetical secondary would take a 
levy on that as well as any other matter! 

“But remember, the galaxy is losing weight by throw- 
ing its light into intergalactic space. That means that 
the mass of energy in the intergalactic space must be 
increasing. Then we have the galaxies losing weight, 
and the space between gaining. At some point there 
must be a neutral region where it neither gains nor 
loses. There the opposing fields, one positive, one nega- 
tive, must clash. They do — and those are the cosmic 
ray fields. 

“Now we have clews here, the rays, the structure of 
suns, and so forth. Several ships have gone into the 
sun, and penetrated to a depth of close to a hundred 
thousand miles, where the pressure became so enormous 
that even shells of solid lux would not stand it, though 
it was close to fifty feet thick. 

“That’s the data. Problem — design a secondary coil,” 
concluded Arcot. 

“And when you get this power? There is on my 
world a story of an old sage whose favorite pupil was 
enthusiastically seeking the liquid in which all things 
dissolve. The sage asked what the youth intended to 
use as a container,” said Zezdon Afthen. 

“Ummm — we have the same story, only it’s an agri- 
culturist and his son,” grinned Morey. “We plan to 
keep it in the one thing that could hold it, the, thing that 



*125,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons. 




190 



AMAZir^G STORIES QUARTERLY 



always did hold it — space itself. As you suggest, no 
conceivable conductors could transmit such power. We 
don’t intend to transmit it ; we intend to use it directly, 
we will not make a material secondary coil ; our second- 
ary coil will be only a condition in space causing energy 
to become available. We will use the energy — but that 
is first to be determined by the machines. However, 
we hope to use the energy to form artificial matter.” 

“I understand. You will not make the ‘coil’ but the 
machine which causes the ‘coil’ to be made in space. 
That seems more conceivable.” Zezdon Afthen nodded, 
satisfied. 

“But,” he continued, “while you men of Earth work 
on this problem, what is there for us? We have no 
problems, save the problem of the fate of our world, 
still fifty thousand years of your time in the future. It 
is terrible to wait, wait, wait and think of what may be 
happening in that other time. Is there nothing we 
can do to help ? I know our hopeless ignorance of your 
science. Stel Pelso Then can scarcely understand the 
thoughts you use, and I can scarcely understand his 
explanations ! I cannot help you there, with your calcu- 
lations, but is there nothing I can do?” 

“There is, Ortolian, decidedly. We badly need your 
help, and as Stel Felso Then cannot aid us here as much 
as he can by working with you, I will ask him to do so. 
I want your knowledge of psycho-mechanical devices 
to help us. Will you make a machine controlled by 
mental impulses? I want to see such a system and 
know how it is done that I may control machines by 
such a system.” 

“Gladly. It will take time, for I am not the expert 
worker that you are, and I must make many pieces of 
apparatus, but I will do what I can,” exclaimed Zezdon 
Afthen eagerly. 

So, while Arcot and his group continued their work of 
determining the constants of the space-energy field, the 
others were working on the mental control apparatus. 

CHAPTER xy; 

All-Powerful Gotls^ 

A GAIN there was a period of intense labor, while the 
ship drifted through time, following Earth in its 
mad careening about the sun, and the sun as it 
rushed headlong through space. With the aid of their 
time machine they had acquired the viewpoint of the 
eternal stars, every motion seemed a headlong plunge; 
the planets darting about were gnats moving about the 
mighty flame of the great energy-machine that was the 
sun. 

But their work went on, and at the end of the thirty- 
day period, they had reached no definite position in 
their calculations, and the Talsonian reported, as a 
medium between the two parties of scientists, that the 
work of the Ortolian had not reached a level that would 
make a scientific understanding of the things possible. 

As the ship needed no replenishing, they determined 
to finish their present work before landing, and it was 
nearly forty thousand years after their first arrival 
that they again landed on Earth. 

It was changed now; the ice caps had retreated vis- 
ibly, the Nile delta was far longer, far more prominent, 
and cities showed on the Earth here and there. China 
was a populous country, the culture well developed, their 
temples and many governmental institutions estab- 
lished. But the contacts with Ancient China were diffi- 
cult, for the natives showed already that strong aversion 
to strangers, fleeing, or attacking at sight. 

“I am afraid we had best investigate the less ad- 
vanced European races,” said Arcot at length. 

(Greece they decided would be the next stop, and to 



Greece they went, landing on a mountain side. Belov/ 
was a village, a small thing of huts and hovels, far 
different from the villages of China, already a civilized 
nation. But the villagers were not so vastly different. 
They attacked, swarming up the hillside furiously, 
shouting and shrieking warnings of their terrible prow- 
ess to these men who came from the “shining house,” 
ordering them to flee from them and turn over their 
possessions to them. 

“All human nature is pretty much alike, I fear. 
What’ll we do ?” asked Morey. He and Arcot had come 
out alone this time. 

“Take one of these fellows back with us, and question 
him. We had best get a more or less definite idea of 
what time-age we are in, hadn’t we? We don’t want 
to overshoot by a few centuries, you know!” 

The villagers were swarming up the side of the hill, 
armed with weapons of bronze and wood. The bronze 
implements of murder were rare, and evidently costly, 
for those that had them were obviously leaders, and 
better dressed than the others. 

“Hang it all, I have only a molecular pistol. Can’t 
use that, it would be a plain massacre. What I W'ant 
to do is to use a cosmic,” exclaimed Arcot. 

But suddenly several others, who had come up from 
one side, appeared from behind a rock. The scientists 
were wearing their power suits, and had them on at low 
power, leaving a weight of about fifty pounds. Morey, 
with his normal weight well over two hundred, jumped 
far to one side of a clumsy rush of a peasant, leaped 
back, and caught him from behind. Lifting the smaller 
man above his head, he hurled him at two others follow- 
ing. The three went dovm in a heap. 

“Little fellows,” grunted Arcot landing a beautiful 
uppercut. 

Most of the men were about five feet tall, and rather 
lightly built. The “Greek God” had not yet materialized 
among them. They were probably poorly fed, and heav- 
ily worked. Only the leaders appeared to be in good 
physical condition, and the men could not develop to 
large stature. Arcot and Morey were giants among 
them, and with their greater skill, tremendous jumping 
ability, and far greater strength, easily overcame the 
few who had come by the side. One of the leaders was 
picked up, and trussed quickly in a rope a fellow had 
carried. 

“Look out,” called Wade from above. Suddenly he 
was standing beside them, having flown dovra on the 
power suit. “Caught your thoughts — rather Zezdon 
Afthen did.” He handed Arcot a cosmic ray pistol. 
The rest of the Greeks were near now, crying in amaze- 
ment, and running more slowly. They didn’t seem so 
anxious to attack. Arcot turned the ray pistol to one 
side — 

called Morey. A face peered from around 

VV the rock toward which Arcot had aimed his 
pistol. It was that of a girl, about fifteen years old 
in appearance, but hard work had probably aged her 
face. Morey bent over, heaved on a small boulder, 
about two hundred pounds of rock, and rolled it free 
of the depression it rested in, then caught it on a mole- 
cular ray, and hurled it up, Arcot turned his cosmic 
ray on it for an instant, and it was white hot. Then 
the molecular ray threw it over toward the great rock, 
and crushed it against it. Three children shrieked and 
ran out from the rock, scurrying down the hillside. 

The soldiers had stopped. They looked at Morey. 
Then they looked at the great rock, three hundred 
jmrds from him. They looked at the rock fragments. 

“They think you threw it,” grinned Arcot. 

“What else — they saw me pick it up, saw me roll it, 
and it flew. What else could they think?” 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 







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A streak of the soil about two feet 
wide flashed into intense radiation 
under the impact of millions on 
millions of horsepower of radiant 
energy. . . . The N eoliths took a 
single look at it, then turned, and 
raced for home. 






',YvV 










192 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



Arcot’s cosmic ray hissed out, and the rocks sputtered 
and cracked, then glowed white. There was a dull explo- 
sion, and chips of rock flew up. A little water, im- 
prisoned, had been turned into steam. In a moment 
the whistle and crackle of combined cosmic and molecu- 
lar rays stabbing out from Arcot’s hands, had built a 
barrier of fused rock. 

Leisurely Arcot and Morey carried their now revived 
prisoner back to the ship, while Wade flew ahead to 
open the locks. 

Half an hour later the prisoner was discharged, much 
to his surprise, and the ship rose. They had been able 
to learn nothing from him. Even the Greek Gods, Zeus, 
Hermes, Apollo, all the later Greek gods, were unknown, 
or so greatly changed that Arcot could not recognize 
them, 

“Well,” he said at length,” it seems all we know is 
that they came before any historical Greeks we know 
of. That puts them back quite a bit, but I don’t know 
how far. Shall we go see the Egyptians?” 

They tried Egypt, a few moments across the Medi- 
terranean, landing close to the mouth of the Nile. The 
people of a village near by immediately set out after 
them. Better prepared this time, Arcot flew out to 
meet them with Zezdon Afthen and Stel Felso Theu. 
Surely, he felt, the sight of the strange men would be 
no more terrifying than was the ship or the men flying. 
And that did not seem to deter their attack. Apparently 
the proverb that “Discretion is the better part of valor,” 
had not been invented, 

Arcot landed near the head of the column, and cut 
off two or three men from the rest with the aid of his 
ray pistol. Zezdon Afthen quickly searched his mind, 
and with Arcot’s aid they determined he did not know 
any of the Gods that Arcot suggested. Gods are long 
lived, for their memory is passed from father to son, 
and if the Gods had not yet been invented as we know 
them, surely it was long before our time. 

Finally they had to return to the ship, disappointed. 
They had had the slight satisfaction of finding that the 
Sun God was Kalz, the later Egyptian Ra might well 
have been an evolved form of that name. 

They restocked the ship, fresh game and fruits again 
appearing on the menu, then once again they launched 
forth into space to wait for their own time. 

“It seems to me that some effect must have been 
produced by our visit,” said Arcot shaking his head 
solemnly. The subject of time-traveling, one of the 
ideas frequently and poorly i>ortrayed in theaters, was 
one of Arcot’s phobias. He did not believe in the possi- 
bility of time-traveling, and was a bit annoyed to find 
himself a subject to the thing he had denied. His 
strongest argument against time-traveling had been the 
“Go back and kill your grandfather as a boy” idea. In 
other words, the time traveler must leave an imprint on 
history. That past-traveling was not physically impos- 
sible, he acknowledged, but that it had happened, he 
denied. If it had happened, he maintained, there would 
have been some record, any scientist capable of doing 
so, would certainly have traveled extensively enough to 
leave his records, and probably have shared his knowl- 
edge with the past. 

“We did, Arcot,” replied Morey softly. “We left an 
impress in history, an impress that still is, and an 
impress that we know, that has affected countless 
thousands. 

“Meet the Egyptian Gods with their heads strange to 
Terrestrians, the Gods who fly through the air without 
wings, come from a shining house that flies, whose look, 
whose pointed finger melts the desert sands, and the 
moist soil!” he continued softly, nodding toward the 
Ortolian and the Talsonian. 

“Their 'impossible’ Gods existed, and visited them. 



Indubitably some genius saw that here was a chance for 
fame and fortune and sold “charms” against the “Gods.’^ 
Result: we are carrying with us some of the oldest 
deities. Again, we did leave our imprint in history.” 

“And,” cried Wade excitedly, “meet the great Her- 
cules, who threw men about. I always knew that Morey 
was a brainless brute, but I never realized the marvel- 
ous divining powers of those Greeks so perfectly as 
now, the Incarnation of Dumb Power!” Dramatically 
Wade pointed to Morey, unable even now to refrain 
from some unnecessary comments. 

“All right. Mercury, the messenger of the Gods 
speaks. The little flaps on Wade’s flying shoes must 
indeed have looked like the winged shoes of legend. 
Wade was Mercury, too brainless for anything but 
carrying the words of wisdom uttered by others. 

“And Arcot,” continued Morey, releasing Wade from 
his condescending stare, “is Jove, hurling the rock- 
fusing, destroying thunderbolts. Certainly nothing the 
Greeks knew, except the thunderbolt, could approach the 
power of a Cosmic.” 

“The Gods that my friends have been talking of,” 
explained Arcot to the curious Ortolians, “are legendary 
deities of Earth. I can see now that we did leave an 
imprint on history in the only way we could — as Gods, 
for surely no other explanation could have occurred to 
those men.” 

The days passed swiftly in the ship, as their work ap- 
proached completion. Finally, when the last of the 
equation of Time, artificial matter, and the most awful 
of their weapons, the unlimited Cosmic Power, had been 
calculated, they fell to the last stage of the work. The 
actual appliances were designed. Then the completed 
apparatus that the Ortolian and the Talsonian had been 
working on, was carefully investigated by the terres- 
trial physicists, and its mechanism studied. Arcot had 
great plans for this, and now it was incorporated in 
their control apparatus. 

The one remaining trouble was time. Already their 
progress had brought them well up to the nineteenth 
century, but, as Morey sadly remarked, they couldn’t 
tell what date, for they were sadly lacking in history. 
Had they known the real date, for instance, of the 
famous battle of Bull Run, they could have watched it 
in the telectroscope, and so determined their time. As 
it was, they knew only that it was one of the period 
of the first half of the decade of 1860. 

“As historians, we’re a bunch of first-class kitchen 
mechanics. Looks like we’re due for another landing 
to locate the exact date,” agreed Arcot. 

“Why land now? Let’s wait until we are nearer the 
time to which w'e belong, so we won’t have to watch so 
carefully and so long,” suggested Wade. 

T hey argued this question for about seventy years, 
as a matter of fact, and finally determined to land. 
It was already 1930 plus. They shut off the time appa- 
ratus, and switched to the double time-field. Then they 
shot toward Earth. They determined on New York, 
and had the excellent luck of landing on a day that 
was abominably cloudy. They couldn’t see anything 
with the telectroscope that would date them. Finally 
they moved to Boston. However, in the meantime, 
night had fallen. 

“Let’s land. What’s the use of trying to avoid if. 
Anyhow, I’d like to mingle with those old people with 
their quaint dress, their old gasoline engines weighing 
tones, uncolored metals and all. Whatsay? 

“I’m afraid our Ortolian and Talsonian friends will 
have to stay aboard, but we can mingle unnoticed if we 
wear ordinary flying clothes, minus our power suits and 
tail flaps,” suggested Arcot. ' 

“I thought you did a marvelously bum job of manag- 




193 



IIWADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



ing thia trip. So that’a why !” laughed Morey. “Goto 
it, Arcot.” 

Kealizing that delay was not time-consuming in their 
peculiar condition, the allies agreed to wait, while the 
Terrestrians visited their world of two centuries ago. 

The great ship was landed on an island in the harbor, 
its lights out, after darkness had fallen. Then the 
Terrestrians took off in flying suits, and power suits, 
and landed, at Arcot’s suggestion, in Cambridge, near 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “For,” as 
Arcot pointed out, “it’s as good a place as any to learn 
the date, and one of the best places to land without 
being a center of attraction. College students in flying 
rig — why not? And we can, perhaps, see some of their 
old machine? in operation instead of in a museum.” 

They landed in a vacant field just across the avenue 
from the group of buildings that represented the little 
old school. The Charles was still uncovered, the black 
waters of the basin sparkling under the lights of the 
bridges and the town. Such a little, dingy town, its 
narrow, dark streets brought home to them the almost 
universal squalor of the twentieth century. There was 
no moon, and no one about the field as they landed on a 
spring night. 

“Boston! Lord, what a town! It’s a village! Did 
you see the narrow, crowded streets, the dark, dingy 
brick buildings piled up on each other so close you 
couldn’t get a toothpick between ’em? And people 
considered houses in those dingy, lightless alleys high 
class residences!” Arcot exclaimed. 

“All of which may be true, Arcot, but don’t light out 
80 till you consider that in these times antiques were 
valuable, because they were old. To many people the 
three rules for value did not yet appear necessary; it 
must be unique, it must be old and it must be beautiful. 
They seemed contented with merely the one, and cer- 
tainly they look old,” replied Morey. “Also, they prob- 
ably are comfortable enough inside, and artificial light- 
ing was fairly well perfected. They had the incandes- 
cent filament bulbs and the ionized gas bulbs were just 
coming in, or had come in ; I don’t know which, yet.” 

“Well, let’s find out,” Arcot took off his power suit 
as he spoke, and, dressed in his close-fitting, brown 
rubberoid flying suit, he seemed only an aviator. They 
walked over toward of group of three-story buildings, 
passing through a wire net fence by a small gate, and 
left the suits in the dark alleyway between the fence 
and the buildings. 

“Wonder what they’d be worth to a man of this time 
if he found ’em?” grinned Morey as he left his beside 
Arcot’s. 

“Can’t imagine. Immensely valuable, but no one will 
find them.” 

“What makes you so siii-e, Arcot?” asked Wade 
dubiously. 

“They’d sure make an impression on history if found, 
and there is no such impression.” Arcot turned, and 
walking along the side of one building, followed its 
wall to Massachusetts Avenue. Bluish arc lights at in- 
tervals lighted the street dimly. Arcot smiled inwardly. 
Automobiles passing “swiftly” along the street, steel 
car rails and a trolley car attracted their attention as it 
rattled and clanged its noisy way along. 

Little groups of people, mostly young men, were pass- 
ing them on the sidewalk as they walked along. They 
attracted a few curious glances, but no one spoke to 
them. The peculiar cut of the clothes, the heavy leather 
shoes, the clump of hard heels and soles on the side- 
walk of concrete, interested the men of an age where 
all shoes were soft, and the walks were as soft and 
yielding as the turf Nature meant man to walk upon. 

A group of girls passed. Their dresses were very 
little more than knee length. “Knowing the rate of 



change of feminine fashions, we could tell very closely 
the year from that dress if we only were fashion ex- 
perts. I must say, though, that the girls of 2130 aren’t 
any better looking than the girls of 1930 if these are 
fair samples.” Morey smiled approvingly. 

“Probably aren’t. Remember that we are Nordics, 
and Nordic types will be more beautiful to us. Near 
a college we are apt to find Nordic types, and not a fair 
cross-section of the race.” Arcot replied in a low voice. 
“But we came here to find a date. I see a newspaper 
store up the way. Shall we go up?” 

“What’ll we pay with ?” asked Morey. 

But the problem was solved for them by Chance. An 
explosive exclamation and then someone fell against 
Arcot violently. 

“Oof — Sorry. Turned my ankle, I guess.” The liv- 
ing antique was nursing his ankle as he sat on the 
sidewalk. 

Arcot bent over unthinking now, and helped him to 
his feet. His hands ran lightly over the stranger’s 
ankle. It was already swelling a bit. 

“Say, do me a favor, will you ? I have my car here, 
and if you will run me up to my place, I’ll appreciate 
it. I can’t drive the thing now, and I can’t leave it here 
or I’ll have a three-way unfixable ticket by the time I 
send for it. Have a car?” 

Arcot looked up, nonplussed. 

The stranger stared at him in the light of the street 
lamp for a moment. His expression changed to one of 
curiosity and surprise as he looked. Arcot’s strong 
forehead, his black, keen eyes, seemed to draw the man’s 
gaze as a magnet draws iron. He shook himself sud- 
denly and gasped in surprise. 

“Who — who are you?” 

Arcot smiled. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to startle you 
so, and I’m afraid we can’t do that for you. Can’t you 
get one of your friends? We have to wait here a while.” 

“And will you tell us the date?” asked Morey, more 
to the point. 

“Uh — why it’s May 25th. Where do you come from ?” 

“What year?” demanded Arcot. 

The man sat up, and stopped rubbing his ankle. He 
■glanced keenly at Arcot, looked carefully at the black 
eyes in the half-light, and replied, “1932.” 

“Thanks. Sorry I can’t help you — perhaps this will 
help explain.” Arcot tossed a metal disc that rang 
sharply, then rolled flashing in the light. He turned, 
and hurried away, his friends behind him. 

“The correct date,” called the man on the running 
board of his car now, “is May 25, 1930.” Arcot 
paused and looked back, but the other had his car 
started and drove away. 

“Why on Earth did he do that?” asked Wade in 
surprise. 

“To test us in the beginning, and to set us right in 
the end, probably. He thought we were kidding, and 
gave a false date to see if we’d comment on it.” 

They left then, and returned to the ship, starting 
once more for the last two hundred years of their 
journey. 

CHAPTER XVI 
Home Again 

I N space once more, Arcot again started their journey 
through time, keeping careful count of the years as 
Earth swung about in its orbit like a mad planet. 
Finally Arcot felt they were getting very near their 
own time. Indeed, he felt that they must already exist 
on Earth now. “One thing that puzzles me, is what 
would happen if we were to go down now, and see our- 
selves,” he suggested. 




194 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Eithei’ we can’t or we don’t want to do it,” pointed 
out Morey, “because we didn’t.” 

“I wonder which it is?” asked Arcot softly. Sud- 
denly he sat up, and pointed to something on the screen 
of the telectroscope, at the same time slowing the time- 
field to a minimum. 

“Hey — look! It’s we!” Arcot exploded. “We know 
what time we’re in now — there goes the old Solarite! 
That makes the second time we’ve watched ourselves! 
I’m going to find out why we can’t go back and see our- 
selves now, or then, or whenever it was, is, or will be.” 

Arcot reached for the time switch, and looked at the 
others. They did not object, and he pulled it open. 
The time field collapsed, the ship seemed to reel, and the 
Earth suddenly flashed before them in an arc, swiftly 
accelerated, and became a blazing line. Suddenly it 
seemed to slow down, and stood motionless before them. 

“Whew. That answers whether it was, couldn’t or 
didn’t want to, I guess. We couldn’t,” said Wade em- 
phatically. “I feel as though every atom of me had 
been under a heavy load of some sort. How about you, 
Stel Felso Theu?” 

“I was not so affected; with me it seems as though 
each atom had been pulled very hard. It is an inde- 
scribable sensation. I cannot know how I know that I 
feel thus. It is surely like nothing else.” 

“I think the answer is that nothing can exist two 
times at the same time-rate. As long as we were in a 
different time-rate we could exist at two times. When 
we tried to exist simultaneously, we could not, and we 
were forced to slip through time to a time wherein we 
either did not exist or wherein we had not yet been. 
Since we were nearer the time when we last existed in 
normal time, than we were to the time of our birth, we 
went to the time we left. I suspect that we will find we 
have just left Earth. Shall we investigate?” 

“Absolutely, Arcot, and here’s hoping we didn’t over- 
shoot the mark by much.” As Morey intimated, had 
they gone much beyond the time they left Earth, they 
might find conditions very serious, indeed. But now 
they went at once toward Earth on the time control. 
As they neared, they looked anxiously for signs of the 
invasion. Arcot spotted the only evident signs, how- 
ever, two large spheres, tiny points in appearance on 
the telectroscope screen, were circling Earth, one at 
about 1,000 miles, moving from east to west, the other 
at about 1,200 miles, moving from north to south. 

“It seems the enemy have retreated to space to do 
their fighting. I wonder how long we were away.” 

As they swept down at a speed greater than light, 
they were invisible till Arcot slowed down near the 
atmosphere. Instantly half a dozen fast ships darted 
toward them, but the ship was very evidently unlike the 
Thessian ships, and no attack was made. First the 
occupants would have an opportunity to prove their 
friendliness. 

“Terrestrians Arcot, Morey and Wade reporting back 
from exploration in space, with two friends. All have 
been on Earth with us previously,” said Arcot into the 
radio vision apparatus. 

“Very well. Dr. Arcot, , You are going to New York 
or Vermont?” asked the Patrol commander. 

“Vermont.” 

“Yes, Sir. I’ll see that you aren’t stopped again.” 

And, thanks to the message thus sent ahead, they 
were not, and in less than half an hour they landed 
once more in Vermont, on the field from which they had 
started. 

The group of scientists who had been here on their 
last call had gone, which seemed natural enough to 
them, who had been working for three months in the 
interval of their trip, but to Dr. Arcot senior, as he 
saw them, it was a misfortune. 



“Now I never will get straight all you’ll have ready, 
and I didn’t expect you back till next week. The men 
have all gone back to their laboratories, since that per- 
mits of better work on the part of each, but we can 
call them here in half an hour. I’m sure they’ll want 
to come. What did you learn. Son, or haven’t you done 
any calculating on your data as yet?” 

“We learned plenty, and I feel quite sure that a hint 
of what we have would bring all those learning-hounds 
around us pretty quickly. Dad,” laughed Arcot junior, 
“and believe it or not, we’ve been calculating on this 
stuff for three months since we left yesterday !” 

“What!” 

“Yes, it’s true! We were on our time field, and 
turned on the space control — and a Thessian ship picked 
that moment to run into us. We cut the ship in half 
as neatly as you please, but it threw us eighty thousand 
years into the past. We have been coasting through 
time on retarded rate while Earth caught up with itself, 
so to speak. In the meantime — three months in a day ! 

“But don’t call those men. Let them come to the 
appointment, while we do some work, and we have 
plenty of work to do, I assure you. We have a list of 
things to order from the standard supply houses, and 
I think you better get them for us, Dad.” Arcot’s man- 
ner became serious now. “We haven’t gotten our Gov- 
ernment Expense Research Cards yet, and you have. 
Order the stuff, and get it out here, while we get ready 
for it. Honestly, I believe that a few ships such as 
this apparatus will permit, will be enough in themselves 
to do the job. It really is a pity that the other men 
didn’t have the opportunity we had for crowding much 
work into little time! 

“But then, I wouldn’t want to take that road to con- 
centration again myself! 

“Have the enemy amused you in my absence? Coma 
on, let’s sit down in the house instead of standing here 
in the sun.” 

They started toward the house, as Arcot senior ex- 
plained what had happened in the short time they had 
been away. 

“There is a friend of yours here, whom you haven’t 
seen in some time. Son. He came with some allies.” 

As they entered the house, they could hear the boards 
creak under some heavy weight that moved across tha 
floor, soundlessly and light of motion in itself. A 
shadow fell across the hall floor, and in the doorway a 
tremendously powerfully-built figure stood. 

He seemed to overflow the doorway, nearly six and a, 
half feet tall, and fully as wide as the door. His rugged* 
bronzed face was smiling pleasantly, and his deep-set 
eyes seemed to flash; a living force flowed from them. 

“Tories! By the Nine Planets! Tories of Nansal! 
Say, I didn’t expect you here, and I will not put my 
hand in that meat-grinder of yours,” grinned Arcot 
happily, as Torlos stretched forth a friendly, but quite 
too powerful hand. 

T orlos of Nansal, that planet Arcot had discovered 
on his first voyage across space, far in another 
Island of Space, another Island Universe, was not con- 
structed as are human beings of Earth, nor of Venus, 
Talso, or Ortol, but most nearly resembled, save in size, 
the Thessians. Their framework, instead of being 
stone, as is ours, was iron, their bones were pure metal- 
lic iron, far stronger than bone. On these far stronger 
bones were great muscles of an entirely different sort, 
a muscle that used heat of the body as its fuel, a muscle 
that was utterly tireless, and unbelievably powerful. 
Not a chemical engine, but a molecular motion engine, 
it had no chemical fatigue-products that would tire it, 
and heeded only the constant heat supply the body 
sucked from the air to work indefinitely. Unlimited by 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



195 



waste-carrying considerations, the strength was enor- 
mous. Torlos’ first demonstration of that strength to the 
Terrestrians when they had met him was tying a crow- 
bar, held at arm’s length, in a simple knot. Arcot had 
erasons for not shaking hands with this friendly giant 
with his two thumbs on each hand. 

It was one of the commercial space freighters plying 
between Nansal, Sator, Earth and Venus that had 
brought the news of this war to him, Torlos explained, 
and he, as the new Trade Coordinator and Fourth of 
the Four who now ruled Nansal, had suggested that 
they go to the aid of the man who had so aided them in 
their great war with Sator. It was Arcot’s gift of the 
secret of the molecular ray and the molecular ship that 
had enabled them to overcome their enemy of centuries, 
and force upon them an upwelcome peace. 

Now, with a fleet of fifty interstellar, or better, inter- 
galactic battleships, Nansal was coming to Earth’s aid. 

The battleships were now on patrol with all of Earth’s 
and Venus’s fleet. But the Nansalian ships were all 
equipped with the enormously rapid space distortion 
system of travel, of course, and were a shock troop in 
the patrol. The Terrestrian and Venerian patrols were 
not so equipped in full. 

“And Arcot, from what I have learned from your 
father, it seems that I can be of real assistance,’’ fin- 
ished Torlos. Torlos had used the direct thought trans- 
ference by the Venerian method that Arcot had origi- 
nally taught him, and therefore Arcot alone had re- 
ceived his thoughts directly, but since Arcot wore the 
Ortolian thought apparatus, he had re-transmitted it 
to the others. 

“All our ships,’’ explained Torlos, “are equipped with 
the newest and most powerful magnetic beam apparatus. 
They have an amazing amount of power. I believe that 
no shielding short of a planetary core is sufficient to 
protect against the concentrated beams of ten or more 
of these ships.” 

“I wouldn’t have either, Torlos, had I not read the 
mind of one of the Thessians. They don’t shield, they 
neutralize. By some system of space distortion they 
use, they distort half of the magnetism and turn it 
around the other way. In other words, half of it be- 
comes north, and the other half remains south. Eesult 
, — nil ! Any conceivable force, they can thus neutralize. 

“I’m a lot sorrier than you are, Torlos, but I don’t 
think the magnetism stunt works any more. But, dear 
old — er — er — er — let’s see, Morey’s Hercules, isn’t he — 
well then, Samson, you are pronto invited on a trip we 
have in mind. To Eros it is. That’s one of the minor 
planets of our system. We’re going to do things to it. 
Watch and see ! 

“But now, I think, I should know what the enemy has 
done. I see they built some new forts.” 

“Yes,” replied Arcot senior, “they did. They decided 
that the system you used on the forts of North and 
South poles was too effective. They moved to space, 
and cut off slices of Luna, pulled it over on their mole- 
cular rays, and used some of the most magnificent appa- 
ratus you ever dreamed of. I have just started work- 
ing on the mathematics of it. 

“They didn’t come near it, but by means of rays, they 
released the energy of the matter very completely, ap- 
parently, and as fast as the energy came loose, a field 
of some sort caught it, and bound it. That was prob- 
ably a very slightly modified Field B-27-e56, the kind 
we use in making lux and such materials. But it took 
them less than twelve hours to convert all that matter 
into relux, and then work it around where they wanted 
it. They moved in a short while ago. 

“We sent out a fleet to do some investigating, but 
they attacked, and stopped work in the meantime. What- 
ever the ray is that can destroy matter at a distance, 



they are afraid that we could find its secret too easily, 
and block it, for they don’t think it is a weapon, and it 
is evidently slow in action.” 

“Then it isn’t what I thought it was,” muttered Arcot 
junior. 

“What did you think it was?” asked his father. 

“Er — tell you later. Go on with the account.” 

“I wish,” said Arcot senior, turning to Zezdon Afthen 
with a smile, “that you’d make these headsets transmit 
all thoughts.” 

“Well, to continue. We have not been idle. Follow- 
ing your suggestion, we built up a large ray screen ap- 
paratus, in fact, several of them, and carried them in 
ships to different parts of the world. Also some of the 
planets, lest they start dropping worlds on us. They are 
already in operation, sending their defensive waves 
against the Heaviside layer. Radio is poor, over any 
distance, and we can’t call Venus from inside the layer 
now. However, we tested the protection, and it works 
— far more efficiently than we calculated, due to the 
amazing conductivity of the layer. 

“If they intend to attack in that way, I suspect that 
it will be soon, for they are ready now, as we discov- 
ered. An attack on their fort was met with a ray screen 
from the fort. 

“They fight with a wild viciousness now. They won’t 
let a ship get near them. They destroy everything on 
sight. They seem tremendously afraid of that appa- 
ratus of yours. Too bad we had no more.” 

“We will have — if you will let me get to work. I see 
it is after sundown now, and I’m hungry. Do we eat?” 

“We certainly do — all but Torlos. He ate yesterday, 
he says, and won’t need anything till the day after 
tomorrow.” 

They ate, and while they were having coffee, it grew 
absolutely dark outside. In the clear air the stars 
winked out, and one could see the visibly moving buBc 
of the Thessian ship now, a point of light, still illumi- 
nated by the sun. They were sitting on the porch, look- 
ing at it, w'hen its light suddenly winked out. 

“Hmmm — in Earth’s shadow,” commented Wade. 

“Well, long may it — Good Lord! Look!” cried Morey. 

S OMEONE had spilled iridescent paint all over Earth, 
and it was running in dripping streams more and 
more from the point of contact, and the shining, iri- 
descent stuff was spreading over the sky above, blotting 
out stars, and making the images of those near the 
edges quiver in the air. And the point of origin of the 
stream seemed to be directly below where they had last 
seen the Thessian ship. 

“It’s nothing but the molecular rays meeting the 
molecular screen. The patrol will get out after the ship 
in a moment, and attack it. Then the Thessians will 
have to use their screen, and shut down the huge ray 
they are throwing on Earth. Venus and the sun are 
protected, too, I understand. Is Mars?” asked Wade. 
“Your sun is protected?” asked Stel Felso Theu. 
“Yes, by ships on its surface, made entirely of relux, 
the heat doesn’t bother them, and the rays of the Thes- 
sians can’t reach the sun. Remember, nothing is too 
big for them to swing with molecular rays. We have 
swung suns a lot bigger than that sun of ours, you 
know, and they might well split it in two for our dis- 
comfort, or heave a few quintillion tons of it out at the 
Earth with molecular rays, so we just simply put up a 
ray plant on the sun. Our engineers are doing the same 
for yours, too, you know. 

“But I don’t know about our other planets. Dad ?” 
“There are ray screens on all the inferior planets, lest 
one of them be thrown into the sun and cause great 
explosions, explosions microscopic to the sun and cata- 
clysmic to man,” replied the older man. 




196 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“But let’s let the rays play, and we will work,” sug- 
gested Arcot junior. 

They went to the ship, and entered it. Arcot senior 
did not follow, but the others waited, while the ship left 
Earth once more, and floated in space. Then they lay 
down and slept. After a full eight hours of sleep all 
around, the terrestrians were ready for sixteen hours 
of wakefulness, the Ortolians for nearly fifty hours, the 
Talsonian could work for some thirty hours, and Torlos 
would work till the others were all asleep. 

They returned at once to Earth, but Earth was still 
almost exactly as they had left it. In fact, Arcot sen- 
ior had not yet reached the house ! For they had gone 
on the time speed, and though they had had plenty of 
sleep, and were ready to work, they had lost no terres- 
trial time. 

They at once assembled considerable apparatus that 
was in sight about the ship, and in the shop and labora- 
tory, anchored the ship firmly with a magnetic beam to 
the Earth’s steel core, and once more speeded time. The 
ship lurched, and was suddenly jerking and grinding 
its way downward! 

Arcot leaped for the controls, sailed across the room 
under the infinitesimal gravity of this tremendously 
advanced time rate, and opened the magnetic beam 
switch. 

“Sorry — ^nothing serious. I forgot, and used an ac- 
celeration of one gravity on that magnetic beam, which 
meant 32 feet per second acceleration for this ship 
under normal time. We were forced through solid 
rock under a tremendous pressure when we speeded 
our time, and the time-pull of that beam. The second 
was disturbed by the second power, and we naturally 
sank right through the rock.” 

Arcot lifted the ship back to the surface, still on ad- 
vanced time. 

Then he anchored it once more, this time judging 
by the external effects. 

The effects of their tremendous time-speed were 
apparent now. It was very dark outside, and what 
could be seen, was absolutely motionless. The lights 
were on inside the ship, and they wasted little time 
looking about, but set to work on the apparatus in the 
laboratory. 

They worked steadily, sleeping when necessary, and 
the giant strength of Torlos was frequently as great an 
asset as his indefatigable work. He was learning 
rapidly, and was able to do a great deal of the work 
without direction. He was not a scientist, and the 
thing was new to him, but his position as one of the 
best of the secret intelligence force of Nansal had 
proven his brains, and he did his share. 

The others, scientists all, found the operations diffi- 
cult, for it had been allotted to each according to his 
utmost capabilities. 

It was still nearly a week of their time before the 
apparatus was completed to the extent possible. In the 
meantime, Arcot had seen the folly of maintaining the 
high time-rate, and three days of terrestrial time had 
passed. They stopped, and now took into the ship what 
apparatus had been ordered. Now there was no need 
for waiting on external things, and they completed the 
remainder of the work under the full time-field, less 
than a minute of normal time passing. 

Finally the unassembled, but completed apparatus, 
was carried to the laboratory of the cottage, and word 
was sent to all the men of Earth that Arcot was going 
to give a demonstration of the apparatus he hoped 
would save them. The scientists from all over Earth 
and Venus were interested, and those of Earth came, 
for there was no time for the men of Venus to arrive 
to inspect the results. 



CHAPTER XVII 
Power of Mind 

I T was night. The stars visible through the labora- 
tory windows winked violently in the disturbed air 
of the Heaviside layer, for the molecular ray screen 
was still up. 

The laboratory was dimly lighted now, all save the 
front of the room. There, a mass of compact boxes 
were piled one on another, and interconnected in vari- 
ous and indeterminate ways. And one table lay in a 
brilliant path of illumination. Behind it stood Arcot 
junior. He was talking to the dim white group of faces 
beyond the table, the scientists of Earth assembled. 

“I have explained our power. It is the power of all 
the universe — Cosmic Power — which is necessarily 
vaster than all others combined. 

“I cannot explain the control in the time I have at 
my disposal, but the mathematics of it, worked out in 
two months of constant effort, you can follow from the 
printed work which will appear soon. 

“The second thing, which some of you have seen be- 
fore, has already been partly explained. It is, in brief, 
artificially created matter. 'The two important things to 
remember about it are that it is, that it does exist, and 
that it exists only where it is determined to exist by the 
control there, and nowhere else. 

“These are all coordinated under the new mental relay 
control. Some of you will doubt this last, but think of 
it under this light. Will, thought, concentration — they 
are efforts, they require energy. Then they can exert 
energy! That is the key to the whole thing. 

“But now for the demonstration.” 

Arcot looked toward Morey, who stood off to one side. 
There was a heavy thud as Morey pushed a small but- 
ton. The relay had closed. Arcot’s mind was now con- 
nected with the controls. 

A globe of cloudiness appeared. It increased in den- 
sity, and was a solid, opalescent sphere. 

“There is a sphere, a foot in diameter, ten feet from 
me,” droned Arcot. The sphere was there. “It is mov- 
ing to the left.” The sphere moved to the left at 
Arcot’s thought. “It is rising.” The sphere rose. “It 
is changing to a disc two feet across.” The sphere 
seemed to flow, and was a disc two feet across as Arcot’s 
toneless voice of concentration continued. 

“It is changing into a hand, like a human hand.” The 
disc changed into a human hand, the fingers slightly 
bent, the soft, white fingers of a woman with the pink 
of the flesh and the wrinkles at the knuckles visible. 
The wrist seemed to fade gradually into nothingness, 
the end of the hand was as indeterminate as are things 
in a dream, but the hand was definite. 

“The hand is reaching for the bar of lux metal on the 
floor.” The soft, little hand moved, and reached down 
and grasped the half ton bar of lux metal, wrapped 
dainty fingers about it and lifted it smoothly and effort- 
lessly to the table, and laid it there. 

A mistiness suddenly solidified to another hand. The 
second hand joined the first, and fell to work on the bar. 
It was pinched, and the tremendously strong metal 
yielded like putty, while a slight flashing of energy 
told that there was a slight inefficiency. 

The hands grasped either end of the bar, and pulled. 
The bar stretched finally under an enormous load. One 
hand let go, and the thud of the highly elastic lux metal 
bar’s return to its original shape echoed through the 
soundless room. These men of the twenty-second cen- 
tury knew what relux and lux metals were, and knew 
their enormous strength. Yet it was putty under these 
hands. The hands that looked like a woman’s ! 

The bar was again placed, on the table, and the hands 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 197 



disappeared. There >vas a thud, and the relay had 
opened. 

“I can’t demonstrate the power I have. It is impos- 
sible. As impossible as demonstrating the destructive 
power of molecular rays here. The power is so enor- 
mous that nothing short of a sun could serve as a 
demonstration-hall. It is utterly beyond comprehension 
under any conditions. I have demonstrated artificial 
matter, and control by mental action. 

“I’m now going to show you some other things we 
have learned. Eemember, I can control perfectly the 
properties of artificial matter, by determining the struc- 
ture it shall have. 

“Watch.” 

Morey closed the relay. Arcot again set to work. A 
heavy ingot of iron was raised by a clamp that fastened 
itself upon it, coming from nowhere. The iron moved, 
and settled over the table. As it approached, a misti- 
ness that formed became a crucible. The crucible 
showed the grey of pure iron, but it was artificial mat- 
ter. The iron settled in the crucible, and a strange pro- 
cess of flowing began. The crucible became a ball, and 
colors flowed across its surface, till finally it was glow- 
ing richly silvery. The ball opened, and a great lump of 
silvery stuff was within it. It settled to the floor, and 
the ball disappeared, but the silvery metal did not. 

“Platinum,” said Morey softly. A gasp came from 
the audience. “Only platinum could exist there, and the 
matter had to rearrange itself as platinum.” He could 
rearrange it in any form he chose, either absorbing or 
supplying energy of existence and energy of formation. 

T he mistiness again appeared in the air, and became 
a globe, a globe of brown. But it changed, and 
disappeared. Morey recognized the signal. “He will 
now make the artificial matter into all the elements, 
and many non-existent elements, unstable, atomic fig- 
ures.” There followed a long series of changes, stop- 
ping finally at one weird thing. It was a new type, an 
atom whose configuration was unstable, but it had 
weirdly impossible-seeming properties. Morey described 
the strange stuff. 

“This is one of the impossible atomic configurations, 
unstable, tends to collapse. We found it stable finally in 
a special space we succeeded in developing for it, and 
we have a sample. It is neither solid, liquid, nor gas! 
We made some by transmutation of natural matter and 
were able to see its properties. What is it? 

“Its normal state is something new, and I can only 
call it solgas. It has fixed form but not fixed volume. 
Like a solid, its form is more or less fixed. If it is 
made in a cube, it remains a cube, if made a sphere it 
remains so. But its volume is changeable. It will 
expand indefinitely if not stopped. Yet, by confining it 
between two planes, it will stop expanding the moment 
any two surfaces come in contact with the planes, its 
shape exactly as before! It melts to a normal liquid, 
and when chilled, turns first to a gas, and finally, at 
absolute zero, to a normal solid.” 

The material shifted again, and again. Finally the 
last of the natural elements was left behind, all -104 
elements known to man were shown, and many others. 

“We will skip now. This is element of atomic weight 
7000.” 

It was a lump of blackness, a lump of soft, oozy black- 
ness. One could tell from the way that Arcot’s mind 
handled it that it was soft. It seemed cold, terribly 
cold, 

“It is very soft, for its atom is so large that it is soft 
in the molecular state. It is tremendously photoelec- 
tric, losing electrons very readily, and since its atom 
has so enormous a volume, its electrons are very far 
from the nucleus in the outer rings, and they absorb 



rays of very great length ; even radio and some shorter 
audio waves seem to affect it. That accounts for its 
blackness, and the softness as Arcot has truly depicted 
it. Also, since it absorbs heat waves and changes them 
to electrical charges, it tends to become cold, as the frost 
Arcot has shown indicates. Eemember, that that is 
infinitely hard as you see it, for it is artificial matter, 
but Arcot has seen natural matter forced into this 
exceedingly explosive atomic figuration. 

“It is so heavily charged in the nucleus that its X-ray 
spectrum is well toward the gamma! The inner elec- 
trons can scarcely vibrate.” 

Again the substance changed — and was gone. 

“Too far — atom of weight 20,000 becomes invisible 
and non-existent as space closes in about it — ^perhaps 
the origin of our space. Atoms of this weight, if 
breaking up, would form two or more atoms that would 
exist in our space, then these would be unstable, and 
break down further into normal atoms. We don’t 
know.” 

“And one more substance,” continued Morey as he 
opened the relay once more. Arcot sat down and rested 
his head in his hands. He was not accustomed to this 
strain, and though his mind was one of the most power- 
ful on Earth, it was very hard for him. 

“We have a substance of commercial and practical 
use now. Cosmium. Arcot will show one method of 
making it.” 

Arcot resumed his work, seated now. A formation 
reached out, and grasped the lump of platinum still on 
the floor. Other bars of iron were brought over from 
the stack of material laid ready, and piled on a broad 
sheet that had formed in the air, tons of it, tens of 
tons. Finally he stopped. There was enough. The 
sheet wrapped itself into a sphere, and contracted, 
slowly, steadily. It was rampant with energy, energy 
flowed from it, and the air about was glowing with ion- 
ization. There was a feeling of awful power that seeped 
into the minds of the watchers, and held them spell- 
bound before the glowing, opalescent sphere. The tons 
of matter were compressed now to a tiny ball! Sud- 
denly the energy flared out violently, a terrific burst of 
energy, ionizing the air in the entire room, and shoot- 
ing it with tiny, burning sparks. Then it was over. 
The ball split, and became two planes. Between them 
was a small ball of a glistening solid. The planes moved 
slowly together, and the ball flattened, and flowed. It 
was a sheet. 

A clamp of artificial matter took it, and held the 
paper-thin sheet, many feet square, in the air. It 
seemed it must bend under its own enormous weight of 
tons, but thin as it was it did not. 

“Cosmium,” said Morey softly. 

Arcot crumpled it, and pressed it once more between 
artificial matter tools. It was a plate, thick as heavy 
cardboard, and two feet on a side. He set it in a holder 
of artificial matter, a sort of frame, and caused the 
controls to lock. 

Taking off the headpiece he had worn, he explained, 
“As Morey said, Cosmium. Briefly, density, 5007.89. 
Tensile strength, about two hundred thousand times 
that of good steel !” The audience gasped. That seems 
little to men who do not realize what it meant. An inch 
of this stuff would be harder to penetrate than three 
miles of steel ! 

“Our new ship,” continued Arcot, “will carry six- 
inch armor.” Six inches would be the equivalent of 
eighteen miles of solid steel, with the enormous im- 
provement that it will be concentrated, and so wiU have 
far greater resistance than any amount of steel. Its 
tensile strength would be the equivalent of an eighteen- 
mile wall of steel. ' 

“But its most important properties are that it reflects 




198 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



everything we know of. Cosmics, light, and even mole- 
culars! It is made of cosmic ray photons, as lux is 




made of light photons, but the inexpressibly tighter 
bond makes the strength enormous. It cannot be han- 
dled by any means save by artificial matter tools. 

“And now I am going to give a demonstration of the 
theatrical possibilities of this new agent. Hardly scien- 
tific — but amusing.” 

But it wasn’t exactly amusing. 

Arcot again donned the headpiece, but almost at 
once took it off. “Sorry — our amusement must wait. 
I want first to show the strength of that plate.” 

He put on the headpiece, and the artificial matter 
formed around another lux metal bar, four inches in 
diameter, and picking it up, moved it toward the plate 



The Scyth 
slow. I brii 
Med in its 
thinas of n 







INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 199 



of cosmium. The bar touched it, then it was forced 
against it. More and more pressure was applied, and — . 
the four-inch lux metal bar slowly, steadily crumpled!. 
Its enormous strength was nothing on that plate ! 

“It would have resisted the old twenty-inch artillery 
in the same way. You know their formula — twenty 
inches of armor at twenty-thousand yards. Twenty 
inches of steel — and they wouldn’t have scratched this 
surface. Eemember, diamonds won’t scratch lux or 
relux, and the latter cut diamonds like so much mild 



tling Scythe, and the handle broke as it fell, and rotted 
before their eyes. “Heh, heh,” the Thing cackled as it 
watched. “Heh — -what Death touches, rots as he leaves 
it.” The grinning, blackened skull grinned wider, in an 
awful, leering cavity, rotting, twisted teeth showed. But 
from under his flapping robe, the skeletal hands drew 
something — ray pistols ! 

“These — these are swifter!” The Thing turned, and 
with a single leering glance behind, flowed once more 
through the wall. 



steel, yet they won’t faze this. A gasp, a stifled, groaning gasp ran through the hall, 

“But now our theatricals,” smiled Arcot, removing a half sob. 
the headpiece once more. “I think,” he continued, “that But far, far away they could hear something clank- 
a manifestation of the super-natural will be most inter- ing, dragging its slow way' along. Spellbound they 

esting. Remember that all you see is real, and all effects turned to the farthest corner — and looked down the 

are produced by artificial matter generated by the long, long road that twined off in distance. A lone, 

cosmic energy, as I have explained, and are controlled luminous figure plodded slowly along it, his half human 

by my mind.” shamble bringing him rapidly nearer. 

Larger and larger he loomed, clearer and clearer be- 

A RCOT had chosen to give this demonstration with came the figure, and his burden. Broken, twisted steel, 
. definite reason. Apparently a bit of scientific or metal of some sort, twisted and blackened, 
playfulness, yet he knew that nothing is so impressive, “It’s over — it’s over — and my toys are here. I win, I 
nor so lastingly remembered as a theatrical demonstra- always win. For I am the spawn of Mars of War, and 

tion of science. The greatest scientist likes to play of Hate, the sister of War, and my toys are the things 

with his science, Steinmetz, the great mathematical they leave behind.” It gesticulated, waving the twisted 

scientist of alternating current phenomena, a man who stuff and now through the haze, they could see them 

could solve problems in triple integration in his head buildings. The framework of buildings and twisted 

that most men of his laboratory could not do at all, was liners, broken weapons. 

frequently amusing himself by such pranks as electrify- It loomed nearer, the cavernous, glowing eyes under 
ing a chair. A tremendous explosion is far more im- low, shaggy brown, became clear, the awful brutal hate, 

pressive, than the mightiest of generators, yet has far the lust of Death, the rotting flesh of Disease — all 

less actual power. Dynamite is not more powerful, seemed stamped on the Horror that approached, 

pound for pound, than coal, yet we naturally think of “Ah!” It had seen them! “Ahhh!” It dropped the 
dynamite as far more powerful — ^because it is impres- buildings, the broken things, and shuffled into a run, 

sive. It is a question of rate, not of quantity only. toward them ! Its face changed, the lips drew back 

But Arcot’s e3g«||ment now — it was on a level of from broken, stained teeth, the curling, cruel lips, and 
its own ! the rotting flesh of the face wrinkled into a grin of lust 

He resumed his|fc^iece. From behind the table, and hatred. The shaggy mop of its hair seemed to 

apparently crawligMjjjjkj^ leg came a thing ! It was a writhe and twist, the long, thin fingers grasped spas- 

hand. A horrible^Wointed hand. It was withei’ed medically as it neared. The torn, broken finger-nails 

and incarmined withfiood, for it was severed from its yvere visible — nearer — nearer — ^nearer 

wrist, and as it hifflched itself along, moving by a “Oh, God — atop it!” A voice shrieked out of the dark 
ghastly twitching of fingers and thumb, it left a trail as someone leaped suddenly to his feet, 
of red behind it. The papef^ to be distributed rustled Simifltaneously with the cry the Thing puffed into 
as it passed, scurrying suddei% ^ross the table, dow^ nothl|||&s3 of energy from which it had sprung, and a 
the leg, and racing toward thiflig^ switch! Byson^^j|||*|3a|jt^ white glowing light came into being 
process of writhing jerks it reached it, andaJjjjMPPBPBWen^rm the room, flooding it with a light that 
the room was plunged into half-light 'ag||BpiflRr^aazzled the e^W, but calmed broken nerves, 
winked out. Light filtering over tfee tralRin of the 

door from the hall alone illuminated the hall, but the CHAPTER XVIII 



hand glowed! It glowed, and scurried away with an 
awful rustling that seemed a strange cackle of laugh- 



Earth’s Defenses 



ter, scuttling into some unseen hole in the wall. The 
quiet of the hall was the quiet of tenseness. 

From the wall, coming through it, came a mistiness 
that solidified as it flowed across. It was far to the 
right, a bent stooped figure, a figure half glimpsed, but 
fully known, for it carried in its bony, glowing hand a 
great, nicked scythe. Its rattling tread echoed hollowly 
on the floor. Stooping walk, shuffling gait, the great 
metal scythe scraping on the floor, half seen as the grey, 
luminous cloak blew open in some unfelt breeze of its 
ephemeral world, revealing bone ; dry, grey bone. Only 
the scythe seemed to know Life, and it was red with 
that Life. Slow running, sticky life-stuff. 

Death paused, and raised his awful head. The hood 
fell back from the cavernous eyesockets, and they flamed 
with a greenish radiance that made every strained face 
in the room assume the same deathly pallor. 

“The Scythe, the Scythe of Death,” grated the rusty 
Voice. “The Scythe is slow, too slow. I bring new 
things,” it cackled in its cracked voice, “new things of 
my tools. See !” The clutching bones dropped the rat- 



“'T AM sorry, Arcot. I did not know, for I see I 

I might have helped, but to me, with my ideas of 
horror, it was as you said, amusement,” said Tor- 
ies. They were sitting now in Arcot’s study at the cot- 
tage; Arcot, his father, Morey, Wade, Tories, the three 
Ortolians and the Talsonian. 

“I know, Tories. You see, where I made my mistake, 
as I have said, was in forgetting that in doing as I did, 
picturing horror, like a snowball rolling, it would grow 
greater. The idea of horror started, my mind pictured 
one, and it inspired greater horror, which in turn re- 
acted on my all too reactive apparatus. As you said, 
the things changed as you watched, molding themselves 
constantly as my mind changed them, under its own 
initiative and the concentrated thoughts of all those 
others. It was a very foolish thing to do, for that last 
Thing — well, remember it was, it existed, and the idea 
of hate and lust it portrayed was caused by my mind, 
but my mind could picture what it would do, if such 
were its emotions, and it would do them 'because my 
mind pictured them! And nothing could resist it!” 




200 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



Arcot’s face was white once more as he thought of the to the point where the Thessians were congregating, 
danger he had run, of the terrible consequences possible The shining dots of their ships and the discs of the forts 
of that ‘amusement.’ were visible from Earth save for the air’s distortion. 

“The Ortolians, as you know, were quite as terrified They seemed a miniature Milky Way, their deadly 
as we. Though every race and every people has its beams concentrated on Earth. No cosmics were being 
own ideas of horror, and the Ortolians felt no original used, for the energy required to damage the entire 
fear, still the strong emotions of all those powerful planet was so great they could not prepare them in time, 
minds acted so powerfully on their sensitive minds that To melt all of New York they knew would do damage, 
they could not think. You others — It was my fault,” but not the damage their moleculars could do if they 
finished Arcot. could break through the screen. 

“It was. Son. But I think that is no reason to waste But the Earth-stations had the advantage now, for 
moments so valuable as these. You say you are ready the entire atmosphere of air, countless billions of tons, 
now to do the work you have to do, to make that ship was helping to absorb the power load of the Thessian 
you speak of. Also you neglected to tell us what the rays. 

second method of making cosmium is. Why not tell me Then the Thessians discovered that the terrestrial 
now, and start on the ship?” asked his father. fleet was in action. A ship glowed with the ray, the 

“Oh — the second method is easy enough,” answered opalescence of relux under moleculars visible on its 
Arcot, rising to his father’s bait of a scientific discus- walls. It simply searched for its opponent while its 
sion, forgetting his depression, “since all we have to do relux slowly yielded. It found it in time, and the terres- 
is to release the energy of space as cosmic rays, and trial ship put up its screen, 
condense them. The experiment was not safe to ti*y in 

• there, so I neglected to explain it, '"T^HE terrestrial fleet set to work, everything they 

“I think we had best start on the ship. I’ll go get A had flying at the Thessian giants, but the Thes- 
some sleep now, and then we can go.” sians had heavier ships, and heavier tubes. More power 

Arcot led the way to the ship, while Tories, Morey as Arcot had said, was winning for them. Inevitably, 
and Wade and Stel Felso Then accompanied him. The when the Sun’s interference somewhat weakened the 
Ortolians were to work on Earth, aiding in the detec- ray shield 

tion of attacks by means of their mental investigation About that time Arcot arrived. The nearest fort 
of the enemy. dived toward the further with an acceleration that 

“WTell — good-bye. Dad. Don’t know when I’ll be back, smashed it against no less than ten of its own ships 
Maybe tomorrow, maybe twenty-five thousand years before they could so much as move, 
from now, or twenty-five thousand years ago. But we’ll When the way was clear to the other fort — and that 
get back somehow. And we’ll clean out the Thessians !” fort had moved, the berserk fort started off on a new 
He entered the ship, and rose into space. tack — and garnered six more wrecks on its side. 

“Where are you going, Ai’cot?” asked Morey. Then Thett’s emissaries located Arcot. The screen 

“Eros,” replied Arcot laconically. was up, and the Negrian attractiv|«^ apparatus which 

“Not if my mind is working right,” cried Wade sud- Arcot had used was working thflHn it. The screen 
denly. All the others were tense, listening for inaudible flashed here and there and collaps^Pinder the full bar- 
sounds. rage of half the Thessian fle^HBj|fi|pot had suspected 

“I quite agree,” replied Arcot. The ship turned it would. But the same forcSHpiP made it collapse 
about, and dived toward New York, a hundred thousand operated a relay that turned o|nie space control, and 
miles behind now, at a speed many times that of light Thett’s molecular ray ener^^^eamed off to outer 
as Arcot snapped into time. Across the void, Zezdon space. 

Fentes’ call had come — New York was to be attacked “We worried them, thjgiWug our hole and dragged it 

by the Thessians, New York and Chicago n«B|New after us, as usual Jy^gfcmn it, we can’t hurt them!” 

York because the orbits of their two fo]^|g3^L||||^^^BjlA disgus^W^*^H^ll we can do is tease them, 

verging over that city in a few minutes whs^^iri pemectly safe, in artificial ” 

They were in the atmosphere, screaiHfc'g through iTjjWWBIh||y»^tamazement. The ship had been held 
as their relux glowed instantaneously in the Heaviside under sulw^oac^fentrol that space was shut in about 
layer, then was through before damage could be done, them, and they motionless. The dials had reached 
The screen was up. a steady point, the current flow had become zero, and 

Scarcely a minute after they passed, the entire heav- they had hung there with only the very slow drain of 
ens blazed into light, the roar of tremendous thunders the Sun’s gravitational field and that of the planet’s 
crashing above them, great lightning bolts rent the field pulling on the ship. Suddenly the current had 
upper air for miles as enormous energies clashed. leaped, and the dials giving the charge in the various 

“Ah — they are sending everything they have against coil banks had moved them down toward zero, 
that screen, and it’s hot. We have ten of our biggest “Hey — they’ve got a wedge in here and are breaking 

tube stations working on it, and more coming in, to our out our hole. Turn on all the generators, Morey.” 
total of thirty, but they have two forts, and Lord only Arcot was all action now. Somehow, inconceivable 
knows how many ships. though it was, the Thessians had spotted them, and got 

“I think me I’m going to cause them some worrying.” some means of attacking them, despite their invulner- 
Arcot turned the ship, and drove up again, now at a able position in another space ! 
speed very low to them but as they had the time-field The generators were on, pouring enormous power into 
up, very great. They passed the screen, and a tremen- the coils, and the dials surged, stopped, and climbed 
dous bolt struck the ship. Everything in it was shielded, ever so slowly. They should have jumped back under 
but the static was still great enough to cause them some that charge, ordinarily dangerously heavy. For perhaps 
trouble as the time-field and electric field fought. But thirty seconds they climbed, then they started down at 
the time-field, because of its very nature, could work full speed! 

faster, and they won through undamaged, though the Arcot’s hand darted to the time field, and switched it 
enormous current seemed flowing for many minutes as on full. The dial jerked, swung, then swung back, and 
they drifted slowly past it. Slowly — at fifty miles a started falling in unison with the dials, stopped, and 
second. climbed. All climbed swiftly, gaining ever more rapid- 

Out in space, free of the atmosphere, Arcot shot out ly. With what seemed a jerk, the time dial flew over, 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 201 

and back, as Arcot opened the switch. They were free, what resembling a man’s face in profile, but slightly 
and the dial on the space control coils was climbing askew, is the reverse of a constellation of the skies of 
normally now. Talso in winter,” interrupted Stel Felso Theu. “From 

“By the Nine Planets, did they drink out our energy! our world the constellation is larger, and the profile is 
The energy of six tons of lead just like that! The lead quite a bit changed, as well as the angle, but the star 
was running into those disintegrators so fast, the coils drift and our angle of observation may have caused the 
it ran off of got a hot box!” called Morey, pouring a change.” 

generous dose of lubricant on the supply coil bearings. “Ahh — That means something, Stel Felso Theu, and 

The lead was fed to the main generators from wires we can save a lot of work. Instead of calculating, let’s 
wound on wheels, and one of these bearings had run over to it and look. Your sun may be recognizable.” 
overheated. It was clearly recognizable when they reached that 

“How’d they do it?” asked Wade. constellation and then, under all possible speed with the 

Tories kept silent, and helped Morey replace the coils time apparatus, they headed for home. Still it was 
of lead wire with others from stock. slow, so Arcot tried once more with the space apparatus 

“Same way we tickled them,” replied Arcot, carefully as well. With the time apparatus throwing them into a 
studying the control instruments, “with the gravity different time-rate, and the space apparatus giving 
ray ! We knew all along that gravitational fields drank them other space-characteristics, they were safe as to 
out the energy — ^they simply pulled it out faster than collisions with stars, as they had been on the outward 
we could pump it in, and used four different rays on us inadvertent trip. They reached Earth after less than 
doing it. Which speaks well for a little ship ! But they half an hour, 
burned off the relux on one room here, and it’s a wreck. 

The molecs hit everything in it. Looks like something ^"T^HEY did not land, but with the telectroscope they 
bad,” called Arcot. The room was Morey’s, but he’d JL could see what was happening. The terrific bom- 
find that out himself. “In the meantime, see if you can bardment of fays was continuing, and the fleets were 
tell where we are. I got loose from their rays by going locked now in a struggle, the combined fleets of Earth 
on both the high speed time-fields and the space control and Venus and of Nansal, far across the void. Many 
at full, with all generators going full blast. Man, they of the terrestrian, or better, Solarion ships, were 
had a stranglehold on us that time ! But wait till we equipped with space distortion apparatus, now, and had 
get that new ship turned out ! some measure of safety in that the attractive rays of 

“When we pulled free, the time-fields and the space the Thessians could not be so concentrated on them. In 
control pulled for an instant. I don’t recognize the numbers was safety, Arcot had been endangered because 
stars.” he was practically alone at the time they attacked. 

And considering that Arcot had visited all the nearer But it was obvious that the Solarian fleet was losing, 
stars, all those that had been known, and many that They could not compete with the heavier ships, and now 
had not; had gone to several of the red giants and the frequent flaming bursts of light that told of a ship 
dwarf blue-white suns for^periments, that meant they caught in the new deadly ray showed another danger, 
were many, many light s from old Sol. “I think Earth is lost if you cannot aid it soon, Arcot, 

“We started off in Lli«^eneral direction of Talso,” for other Thessian ships are coming,” said Stel Felso 
said Wado hopefully. Theu softly. 

“Maybe the photograpflWHBe constellations en route From out of the plane of the planetary orbits they 
to Talso will locate us,” addS^Iorey. were coming, across space from some other world, a 

But a careful examinationj^wed no great similarity, fleet of dozens of them. They were visible as one after 
None of the constellations were'S^ognizable. another leapt into normal time-rates. 

“From the fact that there are f^^^^stars ahead of us “Why doirt they fight in advanced time?” asked 
than behind us, I take it that we arhjg^^near this edge M^y, hal:^[|N|Ki. 

of our Island. What do you think ^Ws /^,.4 Arcot after "tfeegYeat^^^Egius that designed that apparatus'^ 
a moment. Morey, those ships have 

“Is it impossible to^return by merely folb^-^^' j^yg^lfcTiMRim^pparatu j^onnected with their power appa- 
ward'’ th# lips Sx the ship’s present pr6g|g|s/” ratus so that the power has to feed the time continu- 

Torlos. ously. They have no coils like ours. When they advance 

“Not at all — but the chances are all against us. The their time, they’re weakened every other way. 
ship may have come in a perfectly straight line, but it “We need that new ship. Are we going to make it?” 
certainly came at a terrific pace, and went hundreds of demanded Arcot. 

thousands of light years apparently. The rate we were “Take weeks at best. What chance?” asked Morey, 

traveling then is an absolutely unheard-of speed. And “Plenty ; watch.” As he spoke, Arcot pulled open the 

if we diverged from the straight path by a hundredth of time controls, and spun the ship about. They headed 
a degree, that would mean we would miss Sol by thou- off toward a tiny point of light far beyond. It rushed 
sands of light years ! And any star might have thrown , toward them, grew with the swiftness of an exploding 
us out that much,” replied Arcot. “Of course we can bomb, and was suddenly a great, rough fragment of a 
get back — but it may take a month if we have to search, planet hanging before them, miles in extent. 

We could, sooner or later, find some variable stars that “Eros,” explained Wade laconically to Torlos. “Part 
have a period corresponding exactly with the period of of an ancient planet that was destroyed before the time 
variables known on Earth, and pick out Mira, the red of man, or life on Earth, The planet got too near the 
giant, the second largest sun known, for it is a giant sun when its orbit was irregular, and old Sol pulled it 
red variable, which is not a common type. With them to pieces. This is one of the pieces. The other asteroids 
we could work out a position.” are the rest. All planetary surfaces are made up of 

“Which would be all wrong,” interjected Morey great blocks, they aren’t continuous, you know. Like 
smoothly, “Inasmuch as we have gone hundreds of thou- blocks of concrete in a building, they can slide a bit on 
sands of light years — figure out the effect on the star- each other, but friction holds them till they slip with a 

positions in a hundred thousand years!” jar and we have earthquakes. This is one of the plan- 

“And with that correction made, dumbell, run along etary blocks. We see Eros from Earth intermittently, 

home,” answered Arcot, quite as smoothly. for when this thing turns broadside it reflect^ a lot 

“It seems to me that that constellation there, some- of light; edge on it does not reflect so much.” 




202 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



It was a desolate bit of rock. Bare, airless, waterless 
rock, of enormous extent. It was contorted and twisted, 
but there were no great cracks in it, for it was a single 
planetary block. 

Arcot dropped the ship to the barren surface, and 
anchored it with an attractive ray at low concentration. 
There was no gravity of consequence on this bit of rock. 

“Come on, get to work. Space suits, and rush all the 
apparatus out,” snapped Arcot. He was on his feet, 
the power of the ship in neutral now. Only the at- 
tractor was on. In the shortest possible time they got 
into their suits, and under Arcot’s direction set up the 
apparatus on the rocky soil as fast as it was brought 
out. In all, less than fifteen minutes were needed, yet 
Arcot was hurrying them more and more. Tories’ tre- 
mendous strength helped, even on this gravitationless 
world, for he could accelerate more quickly with his 
burdens. 

At last it was set up for operation. The artificial 
matter apparatus was operated by cosmic power, and 
controlled by mental operation, or by mathematical 
formula as they pleased. 

Immediately Arcot set to work. A giant hollow 
cylinder drilled a great hole completely through the 
thin, curved surface of the ancient planetary block, 
through twelve miles of solid rock — a cylinder of arti- 
ficial matter created on a scale possible only to cosmic 
power. The cylinder, half a mile across contained a 
huge plug of matter. Then the artificial matter con- 
tracted swiftly, compressing the matter, and simultane- 
ously treating it with the tremendous fields that changed 
its energy form. In seconds it was a tremendous mass 
of cosmium. 

A second smaller cylinder bored a plug from the rock, ' 
and worked on it. A huge mass of relux resulted. Now 
other artificial matter tools set to work at Arcot’s 
bidding, and cut pieces from hjs huge masses of raw 
materials, and literally, quick as thought, built a great 
framework of them, anchored in the solid rock of the 
planetoid. 

Then a tremendous plane of matter formed, and 
neatly bisected the planetoid, two great flat pieces of 
rock were left where one had been — miles across, miles 
thick — planetary chips. 

On the great framework that had beqifcconstructed, 
four tall shafts of cosmium appeared, aha each was a 
hollow tube, up the center of ^hicli^iiote|^e cable 
of relux. At the peak of each mile-high snaW*^ltt a» 
great globe. Now in the framework below things were 
materializing as Arcot’s flying thoughts arranged them 
— great tubes of cosmium with relux elements — huge 
coils of relux conductors, insulated with microscopic 
but impenetrable layers of cosmium. 

Still, for all his swiftness of mind and accuracy of 
thought, he had to correct only two mistakes in all his 
work. It was nearly an hour before the thing was 
finished. Then, two hundred feet long, a hundred 
wide, and fifty in height, the great mechanism was 
completed, the tall columns rising from four corners of 
the greater framework that supported it. 

Then, into it, Arcot turned the powers of the cosmos. 
The stars in the airless space wavered and danced as 
though seen through a thick atmosphere. Tingling 
power ran through them as it flowed into the tre- 
mendous coils. For thirty seconds — then the heavens 
were as before. 

At last Arcot spoke. Through the radio communica- 
tors, and through the thought-channels, his ideas came 
as he took off the headpiece. “It’s done now, and we 
can rest.” There was a tremendous crash from within 
the apparatus. The heavens reeled before them, and 
shifted, then were still, but the stars were changed. 
The sun shone weirdly, and the stars were altered. 



“That is a time shifting apparatus on a slightly larger 
scale,” replied Arcot to Tories’ question, “and is de- 
signed to give us a chance to work. Come on, let’s 
sleep. A week here should be a few minutes of Earth- 
time.” 

“You sleep, Arcot. I’ll prepare the materials for you,” 
suggested Morey. So Arcot and Wade went to sleep, 
while Morey and the Talsonian and Torlos worked. 
First Morey bound the Ancient Mariner to the frame 
of the time apparatus, safely away from the four lumin- 
ous balls, broadcasters of the time field. Then he 
shut off the attractive ray, and bound himself in the 
operator’s seat of the apparatus of the artificial matter 
machine. 

A plane of artificial matter formed, and a stretch 
of rock rose under its lift as it clove the rock apart. A 
great cleared, level space resulted. Other artificial mat- 
ter enclosed the rock, and the fragments cut free were 
treated under tremendous pressure. In a few moments 
a second enormous mass of cosmium was formed. 

For three hours Morey worked steadily, building a 
tremendous reserve of materials. Lux metal he did not 
make, but relux, the infusible, perfect conductor, and 
cosmium in tremendous masses, he did make. 

And he made some great blocks of oxygen from the 
rock, transmuting the atoms, and stored it frozen on 
the plane, with liquid hydrogen in huge tanks, and some 
metals that would be needed. Then he slept while they 
waited for Arcot. 

Eight hours after he had lain down, Arcot was up, 
and ate his breakfast. He set to work at once with the 
machine. It didn’t suit him, it seemed, and first he 
made a new tool, a small ship that could move about, 
propelled by a piece of artificial matter, and the entire 
ship was a tremendously greater artificial matter ma- 
chine, with a greater power than before! 

His thoughts, far faster 4l|||ft hands could move, built 
up the gigantic hull of thfe^pw ship, and put in the 
rooms and the brace than twelve hours. 

A titanic shell of eiglWHi^lwcosmium, a space, with 
braces of the same non-conductor of heat, cosmium, and 
a two inch inner hull. A tiny space in the gigantic 
hull, a space less than on© thousand cubic feet in dimen- 
sion was the control living quarters. 

It was held no w on great cosmium springs, but Arcot 
was not by any i^eans through. One man must do all 
the work, for ene'^rain must design it, and though he 
^ceived th“ constant advice and help of Morey and 
^e others, it warlsis Tfrafn that pic'riirsd tb“ thimr that 
was built. 

At last the hull was completed. A single, glistening 
tube, of enormous bulk, a mile in length, a thousand feet 
in diameter. Yet nearly all of that great bulk would 
be used immediately. Some room would be left for addi- 
tional apparatus they might care to install. Spare 
parts they did not have to carry — they could make 
their own from the energy abounding in space. 

The enormous, shining hull was a thing of beauty 
through stark grandeur now, but obviously incomplete. 
The ray projectors were not mounted, but they were 
to be ray projectors of a type never before possible. 
Space is the transmitter of all rays, and it is in space 
that those energy forms exist. Arcot had merely to 
transfer the enormously high energy level of the space- 
curvature to any form of energy he wanted, and now, 
with the complete statistics on it, he was able to do 
that directly. No tubes, no generators, only fields that 
changed the energy already there — the immeasurable 
energy available ! 

The next period of work he started the space distor- 
tion apparatus. That must go at the exact center of 
the ship. One tremendous coil, big enough for the 
Ancient Mariner to lie in easily! Minutes, and flying 




IIWADERS FROM THE INFINITE 203 



thoughts had made it — ^then came thousands of the 
individual coils, by thinking of one, and picturing it 
many times! In ranks, rows, and columns they were 
piled into a great block, for power must be stored for 
use of this tremendous machine, while in the artificial 
space when its normal power was not available, and 
that power source must be tremendous. 

Then the time apparatus, and after that the driving 
apparatus. Not the molecular drive now, but an attrac- 
tion drive, an attraction ray focused on their own ship, 
with projectors scattered about the ship that it might 
move effortlessly in every direction. And provision was 
made for a force-drive by means of artificial matter, 
planes of it pushing the ship where it was wanted. But 
with the attraction-drive they would be able to land 
safely, without fear of being crushed by their own 
weight on Thett, for all its enormous gravity. 

The control was now suspended finally, with a series 
of attraction drives about it, locking it immovably in 
place, while smaller attraction devices stimulated grav- 
ity for the occupants. 

Then finally the main apparatus — the power plant — > 
was installed. The enormous coils which handled, or 
better, caused space to handle as they directed, powers 
so great that whole suns could be blasted instantane- 
ously, were put in place, and the field generators that 
would make and direct their rays, their ray screen 
if need be, and handle their artificial matter. Every- 
thing was installed, and all but a rather small space 
was occupied. 

It had been six weeks of continuous work for them, 
for the mind of each was aiding in this work, indirectly 
or directly, and it neared completion now. 

“But, we need one more thing, Arcot. That could 
never land on any planet smaller than Jupiter. ]What 
is its mass?” suggested Morey. 

“Don’t know. I’m sure, but it is of the order of a bil- 
lion tons. I know you are right. What are we going 
to do?” 

“Put on a tender.” 

“Why not the Ancient MarinerV’ asked Wade. 

“It isn’t fitting. It was designed for individual use 
anyway,” replied Morey. “I suggest something more 
like this on a small scale. We won’t have much work 
on that, merely think of every detail of the big ship on 
a small scale, with the exception of the control cube 
furnishings. Instead of the numerous decks, swimming 
pool and so forth, have a large, single room.” 

“Good enough,” replied Arcot. 

As if by magic, a machine appeared, a "small” ma- 
chine of two-hundred-foot length, modified slightly in 
some parts, its bottom flattened, and equipped with an 
attractor anchor. Then they were ready. 

“We will leave the Mariner here, and get it later. 
This apparatus won’t be needed any longer, and we 
don’t want the enemy to get it. Our trial trip will be 
a fight!” called Arcot as he leaped from his seat . The 
mass of the giant ship pulled him, and he fell slowly 
toward it. 

Into its open port he flew, the others behind him, 
their suits still on. The door shut behind them as 
Arcot, at the controls, closed it. As yet they had not 
released the air supplies. It was airless. 

Now the hiss or air, and the quickening of heat crept 
through it. The water in the tanks thawed as the heat 
came, soaking through from the great heaters. In 
minutes the air and heat were normal throughout the 
great bulk. There was air in the power compartments, 
though no one was expected to go there, for the control 
room alone need be occupied ; vision-screens here viewed 
every part of the ship, and all about it. 

The eyes of the new ship were set in recesses of the 
tremendously strong cosmium wall, and over them, pro- 



tecting them, was an infinitely thin, but infinitely 
strong wall of artificial matter, permanently maintained. 
It was opaque to all forms of radiation known from the 
longest Hertzian to the shortest cosmics, save for the 
very narrow band of visible light. Whether this pro- 
tection would stop the Thessian beam that was so 
deadly to lux and relux was not, of course, known. But 
Arcot hoped it would, and, if that beam was radiant 
energy, or material particles, it would. 

“We’ll destroy our station here now, and leave the 
Ancient Mariner where it is. Of course we are a long 
way out of the orbit this planetoid followed, due to the 
effect of the time apparatus, but we can note where it 

is, and we’ll be able to find it when we want it,” said 
Arcot, seated at the great control board now. There 
were no buttons now, or visible controls ; all was mental. 

A tiny sphere of artificial matter formed, and shot 
toward the control board of the time machine outside. 
It depressed the main switch, and space about them 
shifted, twisted, and returned to normal. The time 
apparatus was off for the first time in six weeks. 

“Can’t fuse that, and we can’t crush it. It’s made 
of cosmium, and trying to crush it against the rock 
would just drive it into it. We’ll see what we can do 
though,” muttered Arcot. A plane of artificial matter 
formed just beneath it, and sheared it from its bed on 
the planetoid, cutting through the heavy cosmium an- 
chors. The framework lifted, and the apparatus with 

it. A series of planes, a gigantic honeycomb formed, 
and the apparatus was cut across again and again, till 
only small fragments were left of it. Then these were 
rolled into a ball, and crushed by a sphere of artificial 
matter beyond all repair. The enemy would never learn 
their secret. 

A huge cylinder of artificial matter cut a great gouge 
from the plane that was left where the apparatus had 
been, and a clamp of the same material picked up the 
Ancient Mariner, deposited it there, then covered it 
with rubble and broken rock. A cosmic flashed on the 
rock for an instant, and it was glowing, incandescent 
lava. The Ancient Mariner was buried under a hundred 
feet of rapidly solidifying rock, but rock which could 
be fused away from its infusible walls when the time 
came. 

“We’re ready to go now — get to work with the radio, 
Morey, when we get to Earth.” 

The gravity seemed normal here as they walked 
about, no accelerations affected them as the ship darted 
forward, for all its inconceivably great mass, like an 
arrow, then flashed forward under time control. The 
sun was far distant now, for six weeks they had been 
traveling with the section of Eros under time control. 
But with their tremendous time control plant, and the 
space control, they reached the solar system in very 
little time. 

It seemed impossible to them that that battle could 
still be waging, but it was. The ships of Earth and 
Venus, battling now as a last, hopeless stand, over 
Chicago, were attempting to stop the press of a great 
Thessian fleet. Thin, long Negrian, or Sirian ships had 
joined them in the hour of Earth time that the men 
had been working. Still, despite the reenforcements, 
they were falling back. 

CHAPTEPw XIX 
The Battle of Earth 

I T had been an anxious hour for the forces of the 
Solar System. General Hetsar Sthel, of Kaxor, 
Venus, in charge of the defense, with the advice and 
aid of the General Staff, had thrown in all his forces. 
The great ray stations of the cities would be a last 




204 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



defense after the ships entered the air, but they would 
be mere retaliation, for once Thett got inside Earth’s 
atmosphere, inside the great Heaviside layer ray-screen, 
her rays would be loosed on all the cities. The few 
stations that would operate had ray screens — but not 
the billions of the cities. It would be retaliation, not 
defense. 

The struggle was to keep the Thessians from the air, 
and it was a hopeless struggle. For some time, because 
Earth’s forces had, by sheer sacrifice, held the 'Thessians 
off, they were able to gain when the aid from Venus 
came. A ship was dispatched at once to Sirius for aid, 
had returned to report aid on the way, for Sirius had 
been relieved of attack when Thett sent all ships to this 
planet for the great atfack. 

The forces of Earth and Venus were small ships, in 
general, and carried only small ray screens. They failed 
instantly before the tremendous projectors of the Thes- 
sian battleships, so for a long time the Solarians had 
not used their screens, but going on the daylight side 
of the Thessians, where their ships were black in black 
space, and the Thessian ships bright spots, they had 
used no screens, and bombarded the great ships with 
molecular rays. Slowly their relux was eaten away by 
the smaller Solarian ships, while Solarian after Solarian 
was found, spotted with the molecular ray and de- 
stroyed, or blazed into a torch, revealing its hull, as the 
destructive ray touched the ship. 

But many Thessian ships went to destruction in this. 
And many, poorly armored against magnetism, went 
suddenly dead as the concentrated force of several Nan- 
salian battleships hit them. 

The Nansalian ships were larger, and carried heavier 
screens now. They easily fought it out with one or two 
rays from Thessian ships, probing with deadly magnetic 
rays, sometimes finding some machine, sometimes a 
man who was not under the magnetic screen. A man 
unprotected meant the failure of some machine tempo- 
rarily, and they had a chance to break through the 
armor. 

But the greater size of the Nansalian ships made 
them constant targets. The Thessian ships joined in 
attacking them, as well as the few true battleships 
Earth possessed. 

One new one had just been completed, designed under 
Arcot’s advice. It carried a double ray screen, six 
foot relux, and the space- and time-distortion apparatus. 
Time after time it escaped into space by the use of 
the space-distortion as some Thessian charged down. 
And ship after ship they destroyed by lowering their 
heavy screens, and pouring all their power of six prow 
projectors against a Thessian ship. But eventually one 
of the giant forts crept too near — and it disappeared in 
a blaze of incandescence. 

They were in the last fine stages of Earth’s at- 
mosphere when the general staff received notice that a 
radio message of tremendous power had penetrated the 
ray screen, with advice for them. It was signed 
“Arcot.” 

“Bringing new weapon. Draw all ships within the 
atmosphere when I start action, and drive Thessians 
back into space. Eetire as soon as a distance of ten 
thousand miles is reached. I will then handle the fleet,’’ 
was the message. 

“Gentlemen: We are losing. The move suggested 

would be eminently poor tactics unless we are sure of 
being able to drive them. If we don’t, we are lost in 
any event. I trust Arcot. How vote you?’’ asked Gen- 
eral Hetsar Sthel. 

The message was relayed to the ships. Scarcely a 
moment after the message had been relayed, a tremen- 
dous battleship appeared in space, just beyond the 
battle. It shot forward, and planted itself directly in 



the midst of the battle, brushing aside two huge Thes- 
sians in its progress. The Thessian ships bounced off 
its sides, and reeled away. It lay waiting, making no 
move. All the Thessian ships above poured the full 
concentration of their moleculars into its tremendous 
bulk. A diffused glow of opalescence ran over every 
ship — save the giant. The moleculars were being re- 
flected from its sides, and their diffused energy attacked 
the very ships that were sending them ! 

A fort moved up, and the deadly beam of destruction 
reached out, luminous even in space. 

“Now,” muttered Morey,” we shall see what cosmium 
will stand.” 

Suddenly the screens went blank, all save those inside 
the ship, the eyes outside had been destroyed by the ray. 

“Which means it is nothing in the spectrum, or that 
artificial matter would stop it,” commented Wade. 

A huge spot on the side of the ship had become incan- 
descent. A vapor, a strange puff of smokiness exploded 
from it, and disappeared instantly. Another came and 
faster and faster they followed each other. The cos- 
mium was disintegrating under the ray, but very 
slowly, breaking first into gaseous cosmic rays, then 
free, and spreading. 

“We will now fight,” muttered Morey happily as he 
saw Arcot shift in his seat. 

Arcot picked the moleculars. They reached out, 
touched the heavy relux of the fort, and it exploded 
into opalescence that was hazily white, the colors shifted 
so quickly. A screen sprang into being, and the ray 
was chopped off. The screen was a mass of darting 
flames as energies of stupendous magnitude clashed. 

AKCOT used a bit more of his inconceivable power. 

The ray struck the screen, and it flashed once — 
then died into blackness. The fort suddenly crumpled 
in like a dented can, and rolled clumsily away. The 
other fort was near now, and started an attack of its 
own. Arcot chose the artificial matter this time. He 
was not watching the many attacking ships. 

The great ship careened suddenly, fell over heavily 
to one side. “Foolish of me,” said Arcot. “They tried 
crashing us. See — there, with the new eyes in you 
can see him.” 

A mass of crumpled, broken relux and lux, surrounded 
by a haze of gas lying against a slight scratch on the 
great side told the story. Eight inches of cosmium 
does not give way. 

Yet another ship tried it. But it stopped several 
feet away from the real wall of the ship. It struck a 
wall even more unyielding — artificial matter. Arcot 
had surrounded the ship with a sheet of artificial 
matter. 

But now Arcot was using this major weapon — arti- 
ficial matter. Ship after ship, whether fleeing or at- 
tacking, was surrounded suddenly by a great sphere of 
it, a sudden terrific blaze of energy as the sphere struck 
the ray shield, the control forces now backed by the 
energy of all the millions of stars of space shattered 
it in an instant. Then came the inexorable crush of 
the artificial matter, and a ball of matter alone re- 
mained. 

But the pressing disc of the battle-front which had 
been lowering on Chicago, greatest of Earth’s metropo- 
lises, was lifted. This disc-front was staggering back 
now as Arcot’s mighty ship weakened its strength, and 
destroyed its morale, under the steady drive of the now 
hopeful Solarians. 

The other gigantic fort moved up now, with twenty 
of the largest battleships. The fort turned loose its 
destructive ray — and Arcot tried his new “magnpt.” 
It was not a true magnet, but a transformed space 
field, a field created by the energy of all the universe. 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 205 



The fort was gigantic. Even Arcot’s mighty ship 
was a small thing beside it, but suddenly it seemed 
warped and twisted as space curved visibly in a mag- 
netic field of such terrific intensity as to be immeasur- 
able. Earth, out of the direct range of the great beam, 
trembled under its pull, and earthquakes, like monstrous 
tides, were stirred up in it. The giant ship lurched 
terrifically under its pull — and Arcot turned on one 
other weapon. It was an apparatus designed for induc- 
ing enormous currents in any apparatus made of relux. 
Simply a diffused cosmic ray, for relux, under a cosmic 
ray, and in a magnetic field is a conductor, and also a 
generator. 

It was inevitable. The fort was made of relux. Cur- 
rents were suddenly generated in it, and those currents 
heated it almost instantly to incandescence — ^then it 
shook terrifically as those currents reacted on the mag- 
netic field, the resistance stopped them, the magnetic 
field drove them — and the relux took the strain. The 
great wall was pulverized, shattered to dust, and the 
dust scattered by suddenly expanding air. 

There was double reason in using one weapon after 
another in this way. For one thing Arcot learned 
their manipulation, and their effectiveness. For an- 
other, the display of innumerable and terribly effica- 
cious weapons did not help the morale of the already 
retreating Thessian fleet. 

Moleculars had been beating harmlessly against the 
cosmium walls of the ship, and cosmics had bathed it. 
The eyes did not fail, but each little socket became a 
point of light as artificial matter and cosmic ray energy 
battled, with the inevitable result when the energy of 
matter fought the energy of the Universe. No effect 
was produced on the ship. 

But now Arcot threw out a molecular ray screen, 
generated directly in space, no apparatus of tubes 
handled this, and no apparatus of tubes could bother it. 
But the Thessian battleships poured their futile energy 
into blazing interference on it. 

And his last new weapon, the Sirian attractive ray, 
he tried now. Two battleships were caught by two 
beams. The ships leapt forward at an acceleration 
that yanked them to a speed of thousands of miles per 
second in mere miles of distance. Then they were 
released. They turned their maximum acceleration to 
deflect themselves from the inevitable collision — but at 
that speed no bearable force could turn them half a 
diameter in the distance they had of safety. They 
crashed and relux against relux, the crash was an 
enormous explosion of energy. 

Arcot’s armory was tested and found not wanting. 

Suddenly every Thessian ship in sight, ceased to 
exist. They disappeared. Instantly Arcot threw on all 
time power, and darted toward Venus. The Thessians 
were already nearing the planet, and no possible rays 
could overtake them. An instantaneous touch of the 
space control, and the mighty ship was within hundreds 
of miles of the atmosphere. 

Space twisted about them, reeled, and was firm. The 
Thessian fleet was before them in a moment, visible now 
as they slowed to normal speed. Startled they were 
no doubt to find the ship they had fled from waiting 
before them. But they charged on for a space. Then, 
as though by some magic, they stopped and exploded in 
gouts of light. 

When space had twisted, seconds before, it was be- 
cause Arcot had drawn on the enormous power of space 
to an extent that had been appreciable even to it — ten 
sols. That was forty million tons of matter a second, 
and for a hundredth part of a second it had flowed. 
Before them, in a vast plane, had been created an infini- 
tesimally thin film of artificial matter, four hundred 
thousand tons of it, and into this invisible, infinitely 



hard barrier, the Thessian fleet had rammed. And it 
was gone. 

“I think,” said Arcot softly, as he took off his head- 
piece, “that the beginning of the end is in sight.” 

“And I,” said Morey, “think it is now out of sight. 
Half a dozen ships stopped. And they are gone now, 
to warn the others.” 

“What warning? What can they tell? Only that 
their ships were destroyed by something they couldn’t 
see,” smiled Arcot. “I’m going home.” 

CHAPTER XX 

Destruction 

T hey could not land on Earth. Not with their 
huge machine, but they brought it down to Chi- 
cago, and hung out over the lake, while Arcot 
went in the tender, and picked up a number of delegates. 
Arcot Senior was there, and Morey Senior too. General 
Hetsar Sthel, and the General Staff came en masse, with 
a number of important scientists, who were near enough 
to get there in time. 

“I cannot explain all this apparatus to you. But I 
want you to understand that this ship represents not 
an hour’s labor, but six weeks work, constant work, 
with the most titanic powers the Universe has ever 
yielded to man. 

“I will show you the machine, and you will get an 
impression of it only. I cannot stay long, for I must 
go to those other worlds with what aid I can give. 
But we are in the tender room now. This room,” said 
Arcot pointing about at the great cosmium, arched 
ceiling, “is designed solely to hold this ship, which will 
be anchored in place when we leave it. It alone weighs 
in the order of a quarter of a million tons, and could 
make the intergalactic journey itself. 

“This is the main driving engine. It is better to 
say, it controls the driving power.” He pointed as he 
spoke, to an apparatus the height of a man, and its 
humped bulk was approximately ten feet long. 

The General looked at it skeptically. “Do you mean 
that that apparatus alone drives this enormous thing?” 
he asked. 

“It causes it to be driven,” smiled Arcot, “because it 
causes space to form the field which actually drives.” 
The room they had entered was fully one hundred 
feet high, and two hundred long, by one hundred and 
seventy-five wide. The driving apparatus occupied one 
corner. Down both walls, in great stacks, held in 
cosmium insulating pots, were rows on rows of enor- 
mous coils, twenty feet in diameter, the two toruses, or 
doughnut shaped coils at right angles to each other, the 
space in their intersection was the absolute black of 
that other space they contained. 

“These are the space distortion power coils. This is 
one of the three banks, any one of which is sufficient 
to carry us. Due to the necessary limitations of the 
relux conductors, it takes us five minutes to charge any 
one bank. That machine beside the normal space drive 
supplies the power.” Again it was absurdly small. 

But there was one thing that bulked enormous in 
the center of the room, filling all the space between the 
walls of coils. It was a single cylindrical coil. 

“That,” explained Arcot pointing toward it, “is the 
main space distortion coil. There are two, that or 
the other one may be used. Both are never used at 
once. Either one will give us a velocity of thirty-five 
light years a second, per se.” 

Flying across the room on the molecular suits that 
each had worn, they entered a titanic chaos of machines. 
Machines so huge that entire towns, it seemed, dould 
have been built on their enormous backs. 




206 ^y^ZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Sort, what are those machines?” asked Arcot Senior 
in amazement. 

“The central one, the largest of all, is the artificial 
matter feed apparatus. The one to the left is the pro- 
jector feed. It will feed the projectors with any type of 
feed-field I want, and produce any type of ray that 
exists in space. I do not know its power, nor do I 
know the power of the artificial matter feed. Each 
can handle the power of more than one billion sols, 
however.” 

“And what,” asked Arcot Senior softly, “would that 
do?” 

“It would be sufficient to create a new universe, or 
completely wreck an old one,” replied Morey Junior, 
who had appeared. 

“The other converter, to the right, and those other 
two, fore and aft of the master feed, are other projector 
feeders. We can throw four different types of ray at 
once, if we want, and each ray will be backed with the 
power of one billion suns! 

“The smaller machines about are for different pur- 
poses. That down there is the control, where the men- 
tal impulses are converted to mechanical and electrical 
action. That is the magnetic ray. I’m sorry I touched 
Earth with it. I understand it caused considerable 
damage.” 

“That! That threw the ray that rocked old Earth?” 
asked one of the General Staff, looking in horror at the 
machine, which was no bigger than a private molecular 
ship, and yet was capable of rocking a planet to the core. 

“That did it. It’s made of pure cosmium, and an- 
chored with artificial matter plates. The other ma- 
chines around here have the job of maintaining in place 
the various permanent artificial matter structures. The 
lights — those globes of white fire apparently floating in 
the air, are structures of artificial matter. They are 
under my mental control even now. See.” 

Arcot stared upwards, and the lights, which had 
been shining steadily with a glow rather than a glare, 
suddenly brightened, until they were white furnaces of 
light. The gigantic room was quickly warming, and 
in moments the radiated energy had made it uncom- 
fortable. But the lights dimmed, and in a few seconds 
the molecular cooling had absorbed the energy. 

“TF any enemy should force an entrance to this room 
1 . I could turn the power into those lights till this 
power room was a white hot inferno, in which every 
element would be a gas, except only the cosmium and 
relux of which it is constructed, which could exist in 
solid form. The same is true of every part of the ship, 
and every part of the ship is guarded by those eyes you 
see up there. They watch every room, and relay the 
views to the screens in the ships control room — but 
also, when I have accustomed myself to it, I can have 
those scenes projected directly upon my mind, so^ that 
I am continually conscious of every part of the ship, as 
I am conscious of every part of my body. By merely 
desiring it, any one screen’s impression may be intensi- 
fied, and observed minutely, as the impression of any 
nerve of the body can, by willing, be made more clear, 
more definite. 

“But as yet I can only use the standard controls. I 
need practice. 

“But gentlemen I have to repair the cosmium of the 
ship. It was pitted a bit in some spots by their rays, 
and I want to repair it. Let us go to the control room.” 

“Dr. Arcot. There is one question I should like to 
ask. Do you think the enormous powers of those gen- 
erators is necessary?” asked General Hetsar Sthel. 

“I sincerely hope not. General Sthel, but as a matter 
of fact they are not generators. They do not generate 
power; they merely turn it; convert it. They are no 



more generators than is a transformer for electrical 
power. Save if an electrical transformer were on the 
same scale to the power handled as these machines are, 
you would be unable to see it with the average micro- 
scope !” 

The General looked again at the apparatus which had 
rocked the terrestrial planet, when a stray edge of the 
beam it threw had touched it, and then at the gigantic 
central machine, and the four slightly smaller projector 
feeders. He shook his head, and turned away. 

In the control room, Arcot at once seated himself, 
and the ship darted up, Chicago with its multitude of 
colors, flashing now in the early morning sun dropping 
behind. In a few seconds the scream of the air had 
died out, the space was black around them. 

Out in front of the ship a transparent sphere formed. 
Within it a pair of planes formed, and moved slowly 
toward each other. They touched, and a terrific burst 
of energy evidently escaped, for the meters on the con- 
trol board suddenly jiggled slightly, and the one which 
read in millisols of power used registered in the neigh- 
borhood of five. Five thousandths of a sun power. The 
meter hung steady, and the planes within the sphere 
of transparency seemed to waiver, and move about like 
pieces of cloth, while they glowed with a strange violet 
glare. For perhaps ten seconds this continued, then 
Arcot stopped it. The planes vanished; the sphere 
closed in inexorably, and suddenly, as if by magic, the 
empty space within the sphere was filled with solid, 
reflecting mass. 

“Cosmium,” explained Morey sotto voce, “He pushed 
two artificial matter planes together, and they radiated 
in the cosmic principally, and the sphere-shield he used 
was a perfect reflector of cosmics, though trans- 
parent to light. When the cosmic energy had accumu- 
lated sufficiently, he closed in the sphere against its 
enormous pressure, and then subjected the whole to 
the correct field — and the cosmics crystallized info 
cosmium.” 

So swiftly that they were almost invisible, a number 
of artificial matter tools were at work. The cosmium 
was rapidly pinched off, and smoothed against the pitted 
wall of the ship, till it was smooth once more, and as 
brightly shiny as before. 

“We are ready now. I have just received a message 
from Zezdon Fentes that he has an important com- 
munication to make, so I will go down to New York 
instead of to Chicago, if you gentlemen do not mind. 
Morey will take you to Chicago in the tender, and I 
can find Zezdon Fentes.” 

Zezdon Fentes’ message was brief. He had discovered 
from the minds of several who had been killed by the 
magnetic field Arcot had used, and not destroyed, that 
they had a base in this universe. Thett’s base was 
somewhere near the center of the galaxy, on a system 
of unusually large planets, circling a rather small star. 
But what star their minds had not revealed. 

“It’s up to us then to locate said star,” said Arcot, 
after listening to Zezdon Fentes’ account: “I think 

the easiest way will be to follow them home. We 
can go to your world, Zezdon Fentes, and see what they 
are doing there, and drive them off. Then to yours, Stel 
Felso. I place your world second as it is far better 
able to defend itself than is Ortol. It is agreeable?” 

It was, and the ship, which had been hanging in the 
atmosphere over New York, where Zezdon Afthen 
Fentes and Inthel had come to it in a taxi-ship, sig- 
nalled for the crowd to clear away above. The enor- 
mous bulk of the shining machine, the savior of Earth, 
had attracted a very great amount of attention, natur- 
ally, and thousands on thousands of hardy §ouls had 
braved the cold of the fifteen mile height with altitude 
suits or in small ships to climb up. Now they cleared 




ir^ADERS FROM THE INFINITE 207 




Faster than the might's space ship, the awful Thing ^ught it in mighty talons that ripped through solid reluz. 



208 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



away, and as the ship slowly rose, the tremendous con- 
centrated mental well-wishing of the thousands reached 
the men within the ship. “That,” observed Morley, 
“is one thing cosmium won’t stop. In some ways I wish 
it would — because the mental power that could be 
wielded by any great number of those highly advanced 
Thessians, if they know its possibilities, is not a thing 
to neglect.” 

“I can answer that, Terrestrian,” thought Zezdon 
Afthen. “Our instruments show great mental powers, 
and great ability to concentrate the will in mental proc- 
esses, but they indicate a very slight development of 
these abilities. Our race, despite the fact that our 
mental powers are much less than those of such men as 
Arcot and yourself, have done, and can do many things 
your greater minds cannot, for we have learned the 
direction of the will. We need not fear the will of the 
Thessians. I feel confident of that!” 

The ship was in space now, and as Arcot directed it 
toward Ortol, far far across the Island, he threw on, for 
the moment, the combined power of space distortion and 
time fields. Instantly the sun vanished, and when, less 
than a second later, he cut off the space field, and left 
only the time, the constellations were instantly recog- 
nizable. They were within a dozen light years of Ortol. 

“Morey, may I ask what you call this machine?” asked 
Torlos. 

“You may, but I can’t answer,” laughed Morey. “We 
were so anxious to get it going that we didn’t name 
it. Any suggestions?” 

For a moment none of them made any suggestions, 
then slowly came Arcot’s thoughts, clear and sharp, the 
thoughts of carefully weighed decision. 

“The swiftest thing that ever was thought! The 
most irresistible thing, thought, for nothing can stop 
its progress. The most destructive thing, thought. 
Thought, the greatest constructor, the greatest de- 
stroyer, the product of mind, and producer of powers, 
the greatest of powers. Thought is controlled by the 
mind. Let us call it Thought!” 

“Excellent, Arcot, excellent. The Thought, the con- 
troller of the powers of the cosmos !” cried Morey. 

“But the Thought has not been christened, save in 
battle, and then it had no name. Let us emblazen its 
name on it now,” suggested Wade. 

S TOPPING their motion through space, but main- 
taining a time field that permitted them to work 
without consuming previous time, Arcot formed some 
more cosmium, but now he subjected it to a special type 
of converter field, and into the cosmium, he forced 
some light photons, half bound, half free. The fixture 
he formed into the letters, and welded forever on the 
gigantic prow of the ship, and on its huge sides. 
Thought, it stood in letters ten feet high, made of 
clear transparent cosmium, and the golden light pho- 
tons, imprisoned in it, the slowly disintegrating lux 
metal, would cause those letters to shine for countless 
aeons with the steady golden light they now had. 

The Thought continued on now, and as they slowed 
their progress for Ortol, they saw that messengers of 
Thett had barely arrived. The fort here too had been 
razed to the ground, and now they were concentrating 
over the largest city of Ortol. Their rays were beating 
down on the great ray screen that terrestrial engineers 
had set up, protecting the city, as Earth had been 
protected. But the fleet that stood guard was small, 
and was rapidly being destroyed. A fort broke free, 
and plunged at last for the ray screen. Its relux walls 
glowed a thousand colors as the tremendous energy of 
the ray-screen struck them — but it was through ! 

A molecular ray reached down for the city — and 
stopped half way in a tremendous corruscating burst 



of light and energy. Yet there was none of the sheen 
of the ray screen. Merely light. 

The fort was still driving downward. Then suddenly 
it stopped, and the side dented in like the side of a can 
some one has stepped on, and it came to sudden rest 
against an invisible, impenetrable barrier. A molecular 
reached down from somewhere in space, hit the ray 
screen of Ortol, which the Thessians had attacked for 
hours, and the screen flashed into sudden brilliance, and 
disappeared. The ray struck the Thessian fort, and the 
fort burst into tremendous opalescence, while the in- 
visible barrier the ray had struck was suddenly a great 
sheet of flaming light. In less than half a second the 
opalescence was gone, the fort shuddered, and shrieked 
out of the planet’s atmosphere, a mass of lux now, 
and susceptible to the moleculars. And everything 
that lived within that fort had died instantly and pain- 
lessly. 

The fleet which had been preparing to follow the 
leading fort was suddenly stopped; it halted inde- 
cisively. 

Then the Thought became visible as its great golden 
letters showed suddenly, streaking up from distant 
space. Every ship turned cosmics and moleculars on 
it. The cosmics rebounded from the cosmium walls, 
and from the artificial matter that protected the eyes. 
The moleculars did not affect either, but the invisible 
protective sheet that the Thought was maintaining in 
the Ortolian atmosphere became misty as it fought the 
slight molecular rebounds. 

The Thought went into action. The fort which re- 
mained was the point of attack. The fort had turned 
its destructive ray on the cosmium ship with the result 
that, as before, the cosmium slowly disintegrated into 
puffs of cosmic rays. The vapor seemed to boil out, puff 
suddenly, then was gone. Arcot put up a wall of arti- 
ficial matter to test the effect. The ray went right 
through the matter, without so much as affecting it. 
He tried a sheet of pure energy, an electro-magnetic 
energy stream of tremendous power. The ray bent 
sharply to one side. But in a moment the Thessians 
had realigned it. 

“It’s a photonic stream, but of some type that doesn’t 
affect ordinary matter, but only artificial matter, such 
as lux, relux, or cosmium. As I can’t make those with 
artificial matter apparatus, except to make real mate- 
rial, I can’t get it to fight. If the artificial matter 
would only fight it, I’d be all right.” The thought 
running through Arcot’s mind reached the others. 

A tremendous burst of light energy to the rear an- 
nounced the fact that a Thessian had crashed against 
the artificial matter wall that surrounded the ship. Ar- 
cot was throwing the Thessian destructive beam from 
side to side now, and twice succeeded in misdirecting 
it so that it hit the enemy machines. 

The Thought sent out its terrific beam of magnetic 
energy. The ray was suddenly killed, and the fort 
cruised helplessly on. Its driving apparatus was dead. 
The diffused cosmics reached out, and as the magnetic 
field, the relux and the cosmics interacted, the great 
fort was suddenly blue-white — then instantly a dust 
that scattered before an enormous blast of air. 

From the Thought a great shell of artificial matter 
went, a visible, misty wall, that curled forward, and 
wrapped itself around the Thessian ships with a mo- 
tion of tremendous speed, yet deceptive, for it seemed 
to billow and flow. 

A Thessian warship decided to brush it away — and 
plowed into inconceivable strength. The ship crumpled 
to a mass of broken relux. 

The greater part of the Thessian fleet had already 
fled, but there remained half a hundred great battle- 
ships. And now, within half a million miles of the 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



209 



planet, there began a battle so weird that astronomers 
who watched could not believe it. 

From behind the Thought, where it hung motionless 
beyond the misty wall, a Thing came. 

T he Thessian ships had realized now that the misty 
sphere that walled them in was impenetrable, and 
their rays were off, for none they now had would pene- 
trate it. The forts were gone. 

But the Thing that came behind the Thought was a 
ship, a little ship of the same misty white, and it flowed 
into, and through the wall, and was within their prison. 
The Thessian ships turned their rays toward it, and 
waited. What was this thing? 

The ovaloid ship which drifted so slowly toward them 
suddenly seemed to jerk, and from it reached pseudo- 
pods! An amoeba on a titanic scale! It writhed its 
way purposefully toward the nearest ship, and while 
that ship waited, a pseudopod reached out, and suddenly 
drove through the four foot relux armor! A second 
pseudopod followed with lightning rapidity, and in an 
instant the ship had been split from end to end ! 

Now a hundred rays were leaping toward the thing, 
and the rays burst into fire and gouts of light, black- 
ened, burned pseudopods seemed to fall from the thing 
and hastily it retreated from the enclosure, flowing 
once more through the wall that stopped their rays. 

But another Thing came. It was enormous, a mile 
long, a great, shining scaly thing, a dragon, and on its 
mighty neck was mounted an enormous, distorted head, 
with great flat nose and huge flapping nostrils. It was a 
Thessian head ! The mouth, fifty feet across, wrinkled 
into an horrific grin, and broken, stained teeth of iron 
showed in the mouth. Great talons upraised, it rent 
the misty wall that bound them, and ■writhed its awful 
length in. The swish of its scales seemed to come to 
the watchers, as it chased after a great battleship 
whose pilot fled in terror. Faster than the mighty 
space ship the awful Thing caught it in mighty talons 
that I’ipped through solid relux. Sci'atching, fluttering 
enormous, blood-red wings, the silvery cla’ws tore away 
great mases of relux, sending them flying into space. 

Again rays struck at it. Cosmic and moleculars with 
blinding pencils of light. For now in the close space of 
the Wall was an atmosphere, the air of two great war- 
ships, and though the space was great, the air in the 
ships was dense. 

The rays struck its awful face. The face burst into 
light, and smoke, black, greasy smoke streamed up, as 
the thing writhed and twisted horribly, awful screams 
rang out. Then it was free, and half the face was 
burned away, and a grinning, bleeding, half-cooked 
face writhed and screamed in anger at them. It darted 
at the nearest ship, and ripped out that ray that burned 
it — and quivered into death. It quivered, then quickly 
faded into mist, a haze, and was gone ! 

A last awful thing — a thing they had not noticed as 
all eyes watched that Thing — was standing by the rent 
in the Sphere now, the gigantic Thessian, with leer- 
ing, bestial jaws, enormous, squat limbs, the webbed 
fingers and* toes, and the heavy torso of his race, grin- 
ning at them. In one hand was a thing — and his jaws 
munched. Thett’s men stared in horror as they recog- 
nized that thing in his hand — a Thessian body! He 
grinned happily and reached for a battleship— a ray 
burned him. He howled, and leaped into their midst. 

Then the Thessians went mad. All fought, and they 
fought each other, rays, of all sorts, their moleculars 
and their cosmics, while in their midst the Giant howled 
his glee, and laughed and laughed — 

Eventually it was over, and the last limping Thessian 
ship drove itself crazily against the wreck of its last 
enemy. And only wreckage was left. 



“Lord, Arcot! Why in the Universe did you do that 
— and how did you conceive those horrors?” asked 
Morey, more than a little amazed at the tactics Arcot 
had displayed. 

Arcot shook himself, and disconnected his controls. 
“Why — why I don’t know. I don’t know what made me 
do that I’m sure. I never imagined anything like that 
dragon thing — how did — ” 

His keen eyes fixed themselves suddenly on Zezdon 
Fentes, and their tremendous hypnotic power beat down 
the resistance of the Ortolian’s trained mind. Arcot’s 
mind opened for the others the thoughts of Zezdon 
Fentes. 

He had acted as a medium between the minds of the 
Thessians, and Arcot. Taking the horror-ideas of the 
Thessians, he had imprinted them on Arcot’s mind 
while Arcot was at work with the controls. In Arcot’s 
mind, they had acted exactly as had the ideas that 
night on Eai*th, only here the demonstration had been 
carried to the limit, and the horror ideas were com- 
pounded to the utmost. The Thessians, highly developed 
minds though they were, were not resistant and they 
had broken. The Allies, with their different horror- 
ideas, had been but slightly affected. 

“We will leave you on Ortol, Zezdon Fentes. We 
know you have done much, and perhaps your own mind 
has given a bit. We hope you recover. I think you 
agree with me, Zezdon Afthen and Inthel?” thought 
Arcot. 

“We do, heartiljq and are heartily sorry that one of 
our race has acted in this way. Let us proceed to 
Talso, as soon as possible. You might send Fentes 
down in a shell of artificial matter,” suggested Zezdon 
Afthen. 

“Which,” said Arcot, after this had been done, and 
they were on their way to Talso, “shows the danger of 
a mad Thought!" 

CHAPTER XXI 

The Power of the Thought 

B ut it seemed, or must have seemed to any infinite 
being capable of watching it as it moved now, that 
the Thought was a mad thought. With the time 
control opened to the limit, and a touch of the space 
control, it fled across the Universe at a velocity such as 
no other thing was capable of. 

Stars wheeled, and fled behind it as mountains ■^vheel, 
and flee behind a racing space ship as it enters a world’s 
atmosphere. Stars, light years apart, or hundreds of 
light years apart, flashed to discs, wheeled, w'inked, and 
changed color under the action of the space control, 
winked from green to violet discs, and fled back to 
insignificance with a speed that seemed phantasmal. 

One star — it flashed to a disc, loomed enormous — 
overpowering — then suddenly they were flashing 
through, it! The enormous coils fed their current into 
the space-coils and the time field, and the ship seemed 
to twist and writhe in distorted space as the gravita- 
tional field of a giant star, and a giant ship’s space 
field fought for a fraction of time so short as to be 
utterly below measurement. Then the ship was gone — 
and behind it a star, the center of which had suddenly 
been hurled into another space forever, as the counter- 
acting, gravitational field of the outer layers was re- 
moved for a moment, and only its own enormous density 
affected space, writhed and collapsed upon itself, to 
explode into a mighty sea of flames. Planets it formed, 
we know, by a process such as can happen when only 
this man-made accident happens. 

But the ship fled on, its great coils partly di^chai’ged, 
but still far more charged than need be. 




210 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



It was minutes to Talso where it had been hours 
with the Ancient Mariner, but now they traveled with 
the speed of the Thought! 

Talso too was the scene of a battle, and more of a 
battle than Ortol had been, for here where more power- 
ful defensive forces had been active, the Thessians had 
been more vengeful. All their remaining ships seemed 
concentrated here. And the great molecular screen that 
terrestrian engineers had flung up here had already 
fallen. Great holes had opened in it, as two great forts, 
and a thousand ships, some mighty battleships of the 
intergalactic spaces, some little scout cruisers, had 
turned their rays on the struggling defensive machines. 
It had held for hours, thanks to the tremendous tubes 
that Talso had had in their power-distribution stations, 
but in the end had fallen, but not before many of their 
largest cities had been similarly defended, and the 
people of the others had scattered broadcast. 

True, wherever they might be, a diifused molecular 
would find them and destroy all life save under the few 
screens, but if the Thessians once diffused their rays, 
without entering the atmosphere, the broken screen 
would once more be able to hold. 

No fleet had kept the Thessian forces out of this at- 
mosphere, but dozens of more adequately powered arti- 
ficial matter bomb stations had taught Thett respect for 
Talso. But Talso’s own ray screen had stopped their 
bombs. They could only send their bombs as high as 
the screen. They did not have Arcot’s tremendous 
control power to maintain the matter without difficulty 
even beyond a screen. 

At last the screen had fallen, and the Thessian ships, 
a hole once made, were able to move, and kept that 
hole always under them, though if it once were closed, 
they would again have the struggle to open it. 

Exploding matter bombs had twice caused such spa- 
tial strains and ionized conditions as to come near 
closing it, but finally the Thessian fleet had arranged a 
ring of ships about the hole, and opened a cylinder of 
rays that reached down to the planet. 

Like some gigantic plow the rays tore up mountains, 
oceans, glaciers and land. Tremendous chasms opened 
in straight lines as it plowed along. Unprotected cities 
flashed into fountains of rock and soil and steel that 
leaped upwards as the rays touched, and were gone. 
Protected cities, their screens blazing briefly under the 
enormous ray concentration as the ships moved on, 
unheeding, stood safe on islands of safety amidst the 
destruction. Here in the lower air, where ions would 
be so plentiful, Thett did not try to break down the 
screens, for the air would aid the defenders. 

Finally, as Thett’s forces had planned, they came to 
one of the ionized layer ray-screen stations that was 
still projecting its cone of protective screening to the 
layer above. Every available ray was turned on that 
station, and, designed as it was for protecting part 
of a world, the station was itself protected, but slowly, 
slowly as its already heated tubes weakened their elec- 
tronic emission, the disc of ions retreated more and 
more toward the station as, like some splashing stream, 
the Thessian rays played upon it forcing it back. A 
rapidly accelerating retreat, faster and faster, as the 
disc changed from the dull red of normal defense to 
the higher and bluer quanta of failing, less complete 
defense, the disc of interference retreated. 

Then, with a flash of light, and a roar as the soil 
below spouted up, the station was gone. It had failed. 

Instantly the ring of ships expanded as the great 
screen was weakened by the withdrawal of this sup- 
port. Wider was the path of destruction now as the 
forces moved on. 

But high, high in the sky, far out of sight of the 
naked eye, was a tiny spot that was in reality a giant 



ship. It was flashing forward, and in moments it was 
visible. Then, as another deserted city vanished, it 
was above the Thessian fleet. 

Their rays were directed downward through a hole 
that was even larger. A second station had gone with 
that city. But, as by magic, the hole closed up, and 
chopped their rays off with a decisiveness that startled 
them. The interference was so sharp now that not even 
the dullest of reds showed where their beams touched. 
The close interference was giving off only radio! In 
amazement they looked for this new station of such 
enormous power that their combined rays did not 
noticeably affect it. A world had been fighting their 
rays unsuccessfully. What single station could do 
this, if the many stations of the world could not? 
There was but one they knew of, and they turned now 
to search for the ship they knew must be there. 

“No horrors this time; just clean, burning energy,” 
muttered Arcot. 

It was clean, and it was burning. In an instant one 
of the forts was a mass of opalescence that shifted so 
swiftly it was purest white, then rocketed away, lifeless, 
and no longer relux. 

The other fort had its screen up, though its power, 
designed to withstand the attack of a fleet of enormous 
intergalactic, matter-driven, fighting ships lasted but 
an instant under the driving power of half a million 
million suns, concentrated in one enormous ray of 
energy. The sheer energy of the ray itself, molecular 
ray though it was, heated the material it struck to 
blinding incandescence even as it hurled it at a velocity 
close to that of light into outer space. With little 
sparkling flashes battleships of the void after giant 
cruisers flashed into lux, and vanished under the ray. 

A tremendous combined ray of magnetism and cosmic 
ray energy replaced the molecular, and the ships ex- 
ploded into a dust as fine as the primeval gas from 
which came all matter. 

Sweeping energy, so enormous that the defenses of 
the ships did not even operate against it, shattered 
ship after ship, till the few that remained turned, and, 
faster than the pursuing energies could race through 
space, faster than light, headed for their base. 

“That was fair fight; energy against energy,” said 
Arcot delightedly, for his new toy, which made play- 
things of suns and fed on the cosmic energy of a uni- 
verse, was behaving nicely, “and as I said Stel Felso 
Then, at the beginning of this war the greater Power 
wins, always. And in our Island here, I have five hun- 
dred thousand million separate power plants, each gen- 
erating at the rate of decillions of ergs a second, back- 
ing this ship. 

“Your world will be safe now, and we will head for 
our last embattled ally, Sirius.” The titanic ship turned, 
and disappeared from the view of the madly rejoicing 
billions of Talso below, as it sped, far faster than light, 
across a universe to relieve another sorely tried civili- 
zation. 

Knowing their cause was lost, hopeless in the knowl- 
edge that nothing known to them could battle that 
enormous force concentrated in one ship, the Thought, 
the Thessians had but one aim now, to do all the damage 
in their power before leaving. 

Already their tremendous, unarmed and unarmored 
transports were departing with their hundreds of thou- 
sands from that base system for the far-off Island of 
Space from which they had come. Their battlefleets 
were engaged in destroying all the cities of the allies, 
and those other helpless races of our system that they 
could. Those other inhabited worlds, many of which 
were completely wiped out because Arcot had no knowl- 
edge of them, were relieved only when the general call 
for retreat to protect the mother planet was senj; out. 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



211 



B ut Sirius was looming enormous before them. And 
its planets, heavily defended now by the combined 
Sirian terrestrial and Venerian fleets and great ray 
screens as well as a few matter-bomb stations were suf- 
fering losses none the less. For the old Sixth of Negra, 
the Third here, had fallen. Slipping in on the night 
side of the planet, all power off, and so sending forth 
no warning impulses till it actually fell through the 
ray screen, a small fleet of scouts had entered. Falling 
still under simple gravity, they had been missed by the 
rays till they had fallen to so small a distance, that no 
humans or men of our allied systems could have stopped, 
but only their enormous iron boned strength permitted 
them to resist the acceleration they used to avert colli- 
sion with the planet. Then scattei'ing swiftly, they had 
blasted the great protective screen stations by attacking 
on the sides, where the ray screen projectors were not 
mounted. Designed to protect above, they had no side 
armor. And the Sixth was opened to attack. 

Two and one-half billion people lost their lives pain- 
lessly and instantaneously as tremendous diffused mole- 
culars played on the revolving planet. 

Arcot arrived soon after this catastrophe. The Thes- 
sians left almost immediately, after the loss of three 
hundred or more ships. One hundred and fifty wrecks 
were found. The rest were so blasted by the forces 
w'hich attacked them, that no traces could be found, 
and no count made. 

But as those ships fled back to their base, Arcot, with 
the wonderfully delicate mental control of his ship was 
able to watch them, and follow them, for, invisible un- 
der normal conditions, by twisting space in the same 
manner that they did he was able to see them flee, and 
follow. 

Light year after light year they raced toward the 
distant base. They reached it in two hours, and Arcot 
saw them from a distance sink to the various worlds. 
There were twelve gigantic worlds, each far larger than 
Jupiter of Sol, and larger than Stwall of Talso’s sun, 
Renl. 

“I think,” said Arcot as he stopped the ship at a 
third of a light year, “that we had best destroy those 
planets. We may kill many men, and innocent non- 
combatants, but they have killed many of our races, 
and it is necessary. There are, no doubt, other worlds 
of this Universe here that we do not know of that 
have felt the vengeance of Thett, and if we can cause 
such trouble to them by destroying these worlds, and 
putting the fear of our attacking their mother world 
into them, they will call off those other fleets. I could 
have been invisible to Thett’s ships as we followed 
them here, and for the greater part of the way I was, 
for I was sufficiently out of their time-i-ate, so that 
they were visible only by the short ultra-violet, which 
would have put us in their infra-red, and no photo- 
electric cell will work on quanta of such low energy. 
When at last I was sure of the sun for which they were 
heading, I let them see us, and they know we are 
aware of their base, and that we can follow them. 

“I will destroy one of these worlds, and follow a fleet 
as it starts for their home nebula. Gradually, as they 
run, I will fade into invisibility, and they will not know 
that I have dropped back here to complete the work, but 
will think I am still following. Probably they will 
run to some other nebula in an effort to throw me off, 
but they will most certainly send back a ship to call 
the fleets here to the defense of Thett. 

“I think that is the best plan. Do you agree?” 
“Arcot,” asked Morey slowly, “if this race attempts 
to settle another Universe, what would that indicate 
of their own?” 

“Hmmm — ^that it was either entirely populated by 
their own race or that another race held the parts 



they did not, and that the other race was stronger,” 
replied Arcot. “The thought idea in their minds has 
always been a single world, single solar system as their 
home, however.” 

“And single solar systems cannot originate in this 
Space,” replied Morey, referring to the fact that in the 
primeval gas from which all matter in this Universe 
and all others came, no condensation of mass less than 
thousands of millions of times that of a sun could form 
and continue. 

“We can only investigate — and hope that they do not 
inhabit the whole system, for I am determined that, 
unpleasant as the idea may be, there is one race that 
we cannot afford to have visiting us, and it is going 
to be permanently restrained in one way or another. 
I will first have a conference with their leaders and 
if they will not be peaceful — the Thought can destroy 
or make a Universe! But I think that a second race 
holds part of that Universe, for several times we have 
read in their minds the thought of the ‘Mighty War- 
less Ones of Venone’.” 

“And how do you plan to destroy so large a planet 
as these are ?” asked Morey, indicating the telectroscope 
screen. 

“Watch and see!” said Arcot. 

They shot suddenly toward the distant sun, and as it 
expanded, planets came into view. Moving ever slower 
on the time control, Arcot drove the ship toward a 
gigantic planet at a distance of approximately 300,000,- 
000 miles from its primary, the sun of this system. 

Arcot fell into step with the planet as it moved about 
in its orbit, and watched the speed indicator carefully. 

“What’s the orbital speed, Morey?” asked Arcot. 

“About twelve and a half miles per second,” replied 
the somewhat mystified Morey. 

“Excellent, my dear Watson,” replied Arcot. “And 
now does my dear friend know the average molecular 
velocity of ordinary air?” 

“Why, about one-third of a mile a second, average.” 

“And if that planet as a whole should stop moving, 
and the individual molecules be given the entire energy, 
what would their average velocity be? And what 
temperature would that represent?” asked Arcot. 

“Good — Why, they would have to have the same 
kinetic energy as individuals as they now have as a 
whole, and that would be an average molecular velocity 
in random motion of 12.5 miles a second — giving about 
— about — about — twelve thousand degrees centigrade!” 
exclaimed Morey in surprise. “That would put it in 
the far blue-white region!” 

“Perfect. Now watch.” Arcot donned the headpiece 
he had removed, and once more took charge. He was 
very far from the planet, as distances go, and they 
could not see his ship. But he wanted to be seen. So 
he moved closer, and hung off to the sunward side of 
the planet, then moved to the night side, but stayed in 
the light. In seconds, a battlefleet was out attempting 
to destroy him. 

Surrounding the ship with a wall of artificial matter, 
lest they annoy him, he set to work. 

Directly in the orbit of the planet, a faint mistiness 
appeared, and rapidly solidified to a titanic cup, directly 
in the path of the planet. 

Arcot was pouring energy into the making of that 
matter at such a rate that space was twisted now about 
them. The meter before them, which had not regis- 
tered previously, was registering now, and had moved 
over to three. Three sols — and was still climbing. It 
stopped when ten were reached. Ten times the energj' 
of our sun was pouring into that condensation, and it 
solidified quickly. 

The Thessians had seen the danger now. It was 
less than ten minutes away from their planet, and 




212 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



now gi'eat numbers of ships of all sorts started up 
from the planet, swarming out like rats from a sinking 
vessel. 

Majestically the great world moved on in its orbit 
toward the thin, thin wall of infinite strength and infin- 
ite toughness. Already Thessian battleships were tear- 
ing at that wall with rays of all types, and the wall 
sputtered back little gouts of light, and remained. The 
meters on the Thought were no longer registering. The 
wall was built, and now Arcot had all the giant power 
of the ship holding it there. Any attempt to move it 
or destroy it, and all the energy of the Universe would 
rush to its defense! 

The atmosphere of the planet reached the wall. In- 
stantly, as the pressure of that enormous mass of air 
touched it, the wall fought, and burst into a blaze of 
energy. It was fighting now, and the meter that meas- 
ured sun-powers ran steadily, swiftly up the scale. But 
the men were not watching the meter; they were w^atch- 
ing the awesome sight of Man stopping a world in its 
course ! Turning a world from its path ! 

But the meter climbed suddenly, and the world was 
suddenly a tremendous blaze of light. The solid rock 
had struck the giant cup, 110,000 miles in diameter. 
It was silent, as a wmrld pitted its enormous kinetic 
energy against the combined forces of a universe. 
Soundless— and as hopeless. Its strength was nothing, 
its energy pitted unnoticed against the energy of five 
hundred thousand million suns — as vain as those futile 
attempts of the Thessian battleships on the invulner- 
able walls of the Thought. 

What use is there to attempt description of that scene 
as 2,500,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons of rock and 
metal and matter crashed against a wall of energy, 
immovable and inconceivable. The planet crumpled, and 
split wide. A thousand pieces, and suddenly there was 
a further mistiness about it, and the whole enormous 
mass, seeming but a toy, as it was from this distance 
in space, and as it was in this ship, was enclosed in 
that same, immovable, unalterable wall of energy. 

The ship was as quiet and noiseless, as without indi- 
cation of strain as when it hummed its way through 
empty space. But the planet crumpled and twirled, and 
gi’eat seas of energy flashed about it. 

The world, seeming tiny, was dashed helpless against 
a wall that stopped it, but the wall flared into equal and 
opposite energy, so that matter w’as raised not to the 
twelve thousand Morey had estimated, but nearer 
twenty-four thousand degrees. It was over in less than 
half an hour, and a broken, mis-shapen mass of blue 
incandescence floated in space. It would fall now, to- 
ward the sun, and it would, because it was motionless 
and the sun moved, take an eccentric orbit about that 
sun. Eventually, perhaps, it would wipe out the four 
inferior planets, or perhaps it would be broken as it 
came within the Eoches limit of that sun. But the 
planet was now a miniature sun, and not so very small, 
at that. 

And from every planet of the system was pouring an 
assorted stream of ships, great and small, and they all 
set panic-stricken across the void in the same direc- 
tion. They had seen the power of the Thought, and 
did not contest any longer its right to this system. 

CHAPTER XXII 
Thett 

T hrough the utter void of intergalactic space 
sped a tiny shell, a wee mite of a ship. Scarcely 
twenty feet long, it was one single power plant. 
The man who sat alone in it, as it tore through the 
void at the maximum speed that even its tiny mass was 



capable of, when every last twist possible had been 
given to the distorted time fields, watched a far, far 
galaxy ahead that seemed unchanging. 

Hours, days sped by, and he did not move from his 
position in the ship. But the ship had crossed the 
great gulf, and was speeding through the galaxy now. 
He was near the end. At a reckless speed, he sat 
motionless before the controls, save for slight move- 
ments of supple fingers that directed the ship at a mad 
pace about some gigantic sun and its family of planets. 
Suns flashed, grew to discs, and were left behind in the 
briefest instant. 

The ship slowed, the terrific pace it had been holding 
fell, and dull whine of overworked generators fell to a 
contented hum. A star was looming, expanding before 
it. The great sun glowed the characteristic red of a 
giant as the ship slowed to less than a light-speed, 
and turned toward a gigantic planet that circled the 
red sun. The planet was very close to 500,000 miles in 
diameter, and it revolved at a distance of four and one- 
half billions of miles from the surface of its sun, which 
made the distance to the center of the titanic primary 
four billion, eight hundred million miles, in round 
figures, for the sun’s diameter was ciose to six hundred 
and fifty million miles! Greater even than Antares, 
whose diameter is close to four hundred million miles, 
was this star of another universe, and even from the 
billions of miles of distance that its planet revolved, the 
disc was enormous, a titanic disc of dull red flame. But 
so low was its surface temperature, that even that 
enormous disc did not overheat the giant planet. 

The planet’s atmosphere stretched out tens of thou- 
sands of miles into space, and under the enormous 
gravitational acceleration of the tremendous mass of 
that planet, it was near the surface a blanket dense 
as water. There was no temperature change upon it, 
though its night was one hundred hours long, and its 
day the same. The centrifugal force of the rapid rota- 
tion of this enormous body had flattened it when still 
liquid till it seemed now more of the shape of a pumpkin 
than of an orange. It was really a double planet, for 
its satellite was a world of one hundred thousand miles 
diameter, yet smaller in comparison to its giant primary 
than is Luna in comparison to Earth. It revolved at 
a distance of five million miles from its primary’s 
center, and it, too, was swarming with its people. 

But the racing ship sped directly toward the great 
planet, and shrieked its way down through the at- 
mosphere, till its outer shell was radiating far in the 
violet. 

Straight it flew to where a gigantic city sprawled 
in heaped, somber masonry, but in some order yet, 
for on closer inspection the appearance of interlaced 
circles came over the edge of the giant cities. Ray 
screens were circular and the city was protected by 
dozens of stations. 

The scout was going well under the speed of light 
now, and a message, imperative and commanding, sped 
ahead of him. Half a dozen patrol boats flashed up, 
and fell in beside him, and with him raced to a gigantic 
building that reared its somber head from the center 
of the city. 

Under a white sky they proceeded to it, and landed 
on its I'oof. From the little machine the single man 
came out. Using the webbed hands and feet that had 
led the Allied scientists to think them an aquatic race, 
he swam upward, and through the water-dense atmos- 
phere of the planet toward the door. 

Trees overtopped the building, for it had but four 
stories, above ground, though it was the tallest in the 
city. The trees, like seaweed, floated most of their 
enormous weight in the dense air, but the buildings 
under the gravitational acceleration, which was more 




IIWADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



213 



than one hundred times Earth’s gravity, could not be 
built very high ere they crumple under their o'wn 
weight. Though one of these men weighed approxi- 
mately two hundred pounds on Earth, for all their 
shoi't stature, on this planet their weight was more 
than ten tons! Only the enormously dense atmosphere 
permitted them to move. 

And such an atmosphere! At a temperature of al- 
most exactly 360 degrees centigrade, there was no 
liquid water on the planet, naturally. At that tempera- 
ture water cannot be a liquid, no matter what the 
pressure, and it was a gas. In their own bodies there 
w'as liquid water, but only because they lived on heat, 
their muscles absorbed their energy for work from the 
heat of the air. They carried in their own muscles 
refrigeration, and, with that aid, were able to keep 
liquid water for their life processes. With death, the 
water evaporated. Almost the entire atmosphere was 
made up of oxygen, with but a trace of nitrogen, and 
some amount of carbon dioxide. 

Here their enormous strength was not needed, as 
Arcot had supposed, to move their own bodies, but to 
enable them to perform the ordinary tasks of life. The 
mere act of lifting a thing weighing perhaps ten 
pounds on Earth, here required a lifting force of more 
than half a tonl No wonder enormous strength had 
been developed! Such things as a man might carry 
with him, perhaps a ray pistol, would weigh half a 
ton; his money would weigh near to a hundred pounds! 

But — there were no guns on this world. A man 
could throw a stone perhaps a short distance, but when 
a gravitational acceleration of more than half a mile 
per second acted on it, and it was hurled through an 
atmosphere dense as water — ^what chance was there 
for a long range? 

But these little men of enormous strength did not 
know other schemes of existence, save in the abstract, 
and as things of comical peculiarity. To them life on 
a planet like Earth was as life to a terrestrian on a 
planetoid such as Ceres, Juno or Eros would have 
seemed. Even on Thettsost, the satellite planet of Thett, 
life was strange, and they used lux roofs over their 
cities, though their weight there was four tons ! 

As the scout swam through the dense atmosphere 
of his world toward the entrance way to the building, 
guards stopped him, and examined his credentials. 
Then he was led through long halls, and down a shaft 
ten stories below the planet’s surface, to where a great 
table occupied a part of a low ceiled, wide room. This 
room was shielded, interference screens of all known 
kinds lined the hollow walls, no rays could reach through 
it to the men within. The guard changed, and new 
men examined the scout’s credentials, and he was led 
still deeper into the bowels of the planet. Once more 
the guard changed, and he entered a room guarded not 
by single shields but by triple, and walled with six 
foot relux, and ceiled with the same strong material. 
But here, under the enormous gravity, even its great 
strength required aid in the form of pillars. 

A GIANT of his race sat before a low table. The 
table ran half the length of the room, and beside 
it sat four other men. But there were places for more 
than two dozen. 

“A scout from the colony? What news?” demanded 
the leader. His voice was a growl, deep and throaty. 

“Oh mighty Sthanto (chief slayer of men), I bring 
news of resistance. We waited too long, in our explora- 
tions, and those men of World 3769-8482730-3 have 
learned too much. We were wrong. They had found 
the secret of exceeding the speed of light, and can travel 
through space fully as rapidly as we can, and now, since 
by some means we cannot fathom, they have learned to 



combine both our own system and theirs, they have 
one enormous engine of destruction that travels across 
their huge universe in less time than it takes us to 
travel across a planetary system,” said the scout, speak- 
ing rapidly. 

“Our cause is lost, which is by far the least of our 
troubles. Thett is in danger. We cannot hope to com- 
bat that ship. It is, in length, approximately three 
and one-quarter talt, in diameter one-half talt. It is 
made of a material which seems to be relux. It turns 
cosmics and light and lower frequencies, -as does relux, 
but more, it does not yield eitlier to the double ray 
nor to the molecular ray. The twin ray merely causes 
it to boil away slowly, and that boiling releases its 
energy slowly, and from examinations of that energy 
release we learn it is crystallized cosmic rays, a thing 
we have long known to be capable of formation, but 
under conditions unattainable.” 

“Thalt — what means have we. Can W’e not better 
them?” demanded Sthanto of his chief scientist. 

“Great Sthanto, we know that such a substance can 
be made when pressure can be brought to bear on cos- 
mic rays under the influence of field 24-7649-321, but 
that field cannot be produced, and could not be pro- 
duced, only crystallized cosmic rays could exist within 
it, thus no pressure could be brought to bear upon the 
rays to crystallize them in the first place. We cannot 
produce that field because no sufficient concentration 
of energy is available. Energy cannot be released 
rapidly enough to replace the losses when the field is 
developing. The fact that they have that material indi- 
cates their possession of an unguessed and terrific 
energy source. I would have said that there was no 
energy greater than the energy of matter,” replied 
Thalt smoothly. “But may I add that we know the 
properties of this material and that the triple ray 
which has at last been perfected, and can be produced 
providing your order for all energy sources is given, 
will release its energy at a speed comparable to the 
rate of energy release of relux in a twin ray, but that 
the release takes place only in the path of the ray.” 

“What more. Scout?” asked Sthanto smoothly. 

"The ship first appeared in connection with our 
general attack on world 3769-8482730-3. The attack 
was near success, their sci'eens were already failing. 
They have devised a new and very effective screening. 
They screen the entire world by using the ionized 
layer as a conductor. It was exceedingly difficult to 
break, and since their sun had been similarly screened, 
vve could not throw masses of that matter upon them. 

“In another sthan of time, we would have destroyed 
their world. Then the ship appeared. It has molecular 
rays, magnetic beams and cosmic rays, and a fourth 
weapon we know nothing of. It has molecular screens, 
we suspect, but has not had occasion to use them. 

“Our heaviest molecular screens flash under their 
molecular rays. Ox'dinary screens do not even flash as 
they break. Ail screens fall instantly without mo- 
mentai'y defense. The itotalt thick relux of the forts 
glows pure white, the opalescence of disintegration pro- 
ceeds so I’apidly. The I’ay poxver is incalculable. 

“Their magnetic beams are used in conjunction with 
cosmics. The action of the two causes the relux to 
induce euri'ent, and due to reaction of currents on the 
magnetic field — ” 

“And the resi.stance due to the relux, the relux is 
first heated to incandescence and then the ship opens 
out as the air pressure bends the magnetically softened 
relux?” finished Thalt. 

“No, the effect is even moi*e terrific. It explodes into 
powder,” replied the scout. 

“And what happens to worlds that the magnetic ray 
touches?” inquired the scientist. 




214 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 







INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



215 



“A corner of it touched the world we fought over, 
and the world shook,” replied the colonist. 

“And the last weapon?” asked Sthanto, his voice 
soft now. 

“It seems a ghost. It is a mistiness that comes into 
existence like a cloud, and what it touches is crushed, 
what it rams is shattered. It surrounds the great ship, 
and machines crashing into it at a speed of more than 
six times that of light are completely destroyed, with- 
out in the slightest injuring the shield. 

“Then — what caused my departure from the colony 
— it showed once more its unutterable power. The misti- 
ness formed in the past of our colonial world, number 
3769-1-6, and the planet swept against that wall of 
mistiness, and was shattered, and turned in less than 
five sthan to a ball of blue-white fire. The wall stopped 
the planet in its motion. We could not fight that ma- 
chine, and we left the worlds. The others are coming,” 
finished the scout. 

The ruler turned his slightly smiling face to the 
commander of his armies, who sat beside him. 

“Give orders,” he said softly, almost gently, “that a 
triple ray station be set up under the directions of 
Thalt, and further notice that all power be made in- 
stantly available to it. Add that the colonists are re- 
turning defeated, and bringing danger at their heels. 
The triple ray will destroy each ship as it enters the 
system.” His hand under the table pushed an invisible 
protuberance, and from the perfectly conducting relux 
floor to the equally perfectly conducting ceiling, and 
between four pillars grouped around the spot where the 
scout stood, terrific arcs suddenly came into being. 
They lasted, for the thousandth part of a second, and 
.. when they suddenly died away, as swiftly as they had 
come, there was not even ash where the scout had been. 

“Have you any suggestions, Thalt?” he asked of the 
scientist, his voice as soft as before. 

“I quite agree with your conduct so far, but the fu- 
ture conduct you had planned is quite unsatisfactory,” 
replied the scientist. The ruler sat motionless in his 
great seat, staring fixedly at the scientist. “I think it 
is time I take your place, therefore.” The place where 
the ruler had been was suddenly seen as through a dark 
cloud, then the cloud was gone, and with it the king, 
only his relux chair, and the bits of lux or relux that 
had been about his garments remained. 

“He was a fool,” said the scientist softly, as he rose, 
“to plan on removing his scientist. Are there any who 
object to my succession?” 

“No one objects,” said Faslar, the ex-king’s Prime 
Minister and counseller. 

“Then I think, Phantal, Commander of planetary 
forces, that you had best see Ranstud, my assistant, and 
follow out the plan outlined by my predecessor. And 
you, Tastal, Commander of Fleets, had best bring your 
fleets near the planets for protection. Go.” 

“May I suggest, mighty Thalt,” said Faslar after 
the others had left, “that my knowledge will be exceed- 
ingly useful to you. You have two commanders, neither 
of whom loves you, and neither of whom is highly 
capable. The family of Thadstil would be glad to learn 
who removed that honoi'ed gentleman, and the family 
of Datstir would gladly support him who brought the 
remover of their head to them. 

“This would remove two unwelcome menaces, and 
open places for such as Ranstud and your son Warrtil. 

“And,” he said hastily as he saw a slight shift in 
Thalt’s eyes, “I might say further that the bereaved 
ones of Parthel would find great interest in certain 
of my papers, which are only protected by my personal, 
constant watchfulness.” 

"Ah, so? And what of Kelston Fain, Faslar?” smiled 
the new Sthanta. 



Thalt’s hand relaxed, and they started a conversation 
and discussion qn means of defense. 

CHAPTER XXIII 
Dreams 

y&RCOT, carrying out his plan, had followed the 
/A escaping colonists as they headed across the 
universe, following them out, and into intergalac- 
tic space, invisible to them now, but watching carefully 
their line of flight. Their slower ships took hours to 
get beyond the confines of the Island, then, with all their 
power on at full, they raced for Thett, far off across the 
void. 

For several hours more Arcot followed them, lining 
their flight carefully, without letting them know he was 
following. Then, assured that he had located their 
home universe, he let his ship slowly sink into their 
visible range. Instantly the change was apparent. The 
great fleet of ships was suddenly wildly changing its 
order, as battleships fell to the rear, and passenger 
transports moved up. Then their line of march altered 
slightly, and they were headed for quite another Island. 

Arcot shot one cone of moleculars at the battleships, 
and watched half a dozen flash into opalescence ; then he 
disappeared from their sight as he turned on his full 
time power. Quickly he swung the Thought about, and 
headed back for our Island. He gave a touch of the 
space power as well, and minutes later, when he shut 
it off, he was once more far within the Island. 

In ten minutes he was again following the planets 
of that base system the Thessians had chosen. One 
after another he blasted those planets into great balls 
of molten rock and metal, using enormous cosmic rays, 
thus altering their orbits very little, though the sheer 
mass of the cosmic rays was sufficient to drive the 
planets somewhat toward the sun. 

Arcot did not want to go at once to Thett. He wanted 
to be sure that all Thett’s forces had congregated there. 
Then he at last would destroy them. One ship, per- 
haps, would be enough to bring more trouble upon them, 
though he felt that it would not be of great import, 
since it was evidently a question of time before that 
one ship-full would be able to be a menace to Earth 
once more, and in the years that must intervene — . 
Earth herself would be too powerful; her commerce 
already extending to the Universe of Nansal and Sator, 
to hundreds of colony worlds and allied worlds of this 
Island, and as expansion became desirable, there were 
countless other vast Universes that must of necessity be 
habitable in some parts. Or, if they did not desire to 
leave this universe, the latest determinations by actual 
star-drift measurement from space ships had shown 
that this Island alone, largest of all known, contained 
five hundred thousand million suns, half again as many 
as their previous estimates, made from Earth, had 
shown. 

With Thought type ships, it would be simple now 
to make planets when wanted, to carve from suns 
masses of matter of whatever type and whatever 
size they desired. Cooling would be simple. A 
giant molecular ray would quickly cool the new-made 
world, and working on it with the infinite tools of arti- 
ficial matter and cosmic energy, the world could be 
placed wherever man wanted it, carved as he saw fit, 
the atmosphere and temperature he could determine, 
and the land distribution would not be a thing of 
chance, but of his determining. The suns — he could 
pick his suns, and about them place the planets he 
wanted. No great cataclysm would occur on that sun, 
when the planets he made were carved from it, for the 
loss of a thousandth part of its mass, the outermost 




216 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



layers of its mighty bulk would not practically alter it. 

Enthusiastically as he sat in the great ^hip he thought 
of that future that lay before man. 

He pictured the tearing of some mighty mass of 
matter from Just such a sun as this one, the formation, 
the cooling of the planet, the establishment of its orbit. 
In his mind’s eye he seemed to see that vei’y process 
now, and see before him the great barren world ready 
for population. 

Then upon it he saw trees springing into green life, 
cities with their multitudinous flashing buildings rising 
up, their ships filling the air, 

“Ai'cot, that is the most wonderful constructive 
demonstration of the enormous power of this machine 
I have seen, but may I ask the reason for it?” broke in 
Morey’s voice. 

Arcot started. He suddenly realized that he had 
neglected to remove the control headset! His dream 
existed! He started now in wonder as he looked upon 
the world his idle dream had created ! A World as large 
as Earth, spinning in its orbit, a new' created thing, 
green with life, and flashing with cities — of artificial 
matter. They faded now as he looked, the thought that 
they were not there suddenly entering his mind, but 
the great world remained, barren rock and rolling 
waters ! 

“Good Lord, Morey!” exclaimed Arcot, not neglecting 
to remove the headset now, “I was merely thinking of 
the things man could do in the future — and the dream 
came true. I thought of the making of that world — 
and it was made. I thought of its peopling, and it w'as 
peopled!” Arcot shuddered a little now as he realized 
the awful power that lay in the mere dream of him 
who sat before the controls of the Thought. 

“Arcot,” said Morey gravely, “it is true, for your 
dream has come true, as it necessarily must w'hen you 
dream with that power under your conti'ol.” He smiled 
now', a little thin smile, and added, “But don’t dream 
that I have ceased to exist, please. 

‘Tt is a magnificent future man has — can w'e but 
destroy the men who have so besieged our worlds. 
Some of your thoughts were clear enough for me to 
catch, but many were insufficiently pow'erful for me to 
catch. Only the sensitive apparatus of the ship caught 
them, and put them into effect. Your slightest wish is 
now law, a mighty natural law that all the Universe 
upholds with its combined might. You must be careful 
in those wishes. 

“That was a dream, a constructive dream, as are all 
dreams of the true scientist, and now, and forever 
more, man’s dreams will be realized in full, for he can 
make them come true by the mere act of dreaming. 
Most of mankind dream of things that are great and 
good for the race.” 

T O their amazement, Wade suddenly burst out laugh- 
ing uproariously. “Whoa — that reminds me of an 
old poem, written by an Englishman of about the be- 
ginning of the scientific era — about 1900. His name 
W'as Kipling, and he w'as w'riting about the monkeys. 
He said that their ideas were of the order of 
‘Something great, and noble and new, 

Done, by merely wishing it true.’ 

“In honor of that bit of verse I think we should by all 
means change the name of this ship at once to the 
Banderlog, the name of that poem. Our first inter- 
galactic ship was named after a poem, what more ap- 
propriate than that for this ship?” laughed Wade. 
“But,” he added more seriously, “it is the dream of 
the ‘Banderlog,’ something great and noble and new, 
done by merely wishing it true. And that accomplish- 
ment in itself is indeed something great and noble 
and new.” 



They had spoken in English, and the words had 
more or less replaced the thought-pictures, with the 
result that the Ortolians and the Talsonian had been 
unable to follow them, but Tories, who spoke English 
quite well, and understood perfectly, had followed them, 
and now he spoke. 

“There is humor in what Wade says, in speaking of 
your old poet, and there is greatness in what Arcot has 
done in making that world. It was indeed a ‘constructive 
dream.’ 

“But before man can dream further of constructive 
good, he must first dream of destructive good ; we have 
enemies who must be destroyed. They have captured 
several of my men, Arcot, and if I know their minds 
at all, they will certainly wish to avenge themselves 
on my world as well, and we have no great Thought 
to defend us. Nor have the dozens of other inhabited 
globes of these systems. Let us first destroy our 
enemies, and relieve these worlds.” 

“We are doing so, Tories,” said Arcot. “We will 
desti'oy them, but now we are doing our best to relieve 
those other worlds. We must give the Invaders time 
to return in their slower ships to their own planet. 
Then we can attack, and destroy all at once. 

“But now I think it would be wise for me to practice 
what I have not yet had an opportunity to use — the full 
possibilities of mental control.” Arcot meant by this 
the mental impression view of the entire field, vision in 
all directions simultaneously and simultaneous knowl- 
edge of all operations of the ship. It was a thing he 
must indeed become accustomed to, for such a thing was 
completely foreign to human experience. 

So for days they circled through the universe, Arcot 
or Morey or Wade taking control, with full mental im- 
pression-viewing. The sensation was utterly indescrib-, 
able, as their minds were simultaneously and equally 
completely cognizant of the entire space about them. 
Human eyes cannot take in a field of view of more than 
a very few degrees. Of that, but a very small part 
is seen in detail. It is a common experience that it 
is impossible to look at both eyes of a person simul- 
taneously. 

It is not due to any inability on the part of the brain, 
but due to the eyes. No man in all history ever used 
even half of the thinking part of his brain. The 
feeling and sensation section of the brain is very in- 
completely used, and the great mass of the brain which 
is designed for thinking is never so much as half 
used. But a small fraction of one hemisphere is used. 
With the apparatus Arcot was now using, these men 
received images of all space with the same clarity of 
detail, with which the eyes received one small portion 
of space. They, too, understood everything within 
it with equal ease, the images were perceived and 
comprehended by the brain with the same ease as the 
brain comprehends the images produced by the eyes. 
The great need of practice was in learning automatic- 
ally the position of any object. We know in what 
direction our eyes are focused, but when the entire 
field of space is pictured, it is difficult to determine 
where an object pictured lies. With relation to other 
objects, yes. With relation to the viewer — no. 

Further, they discovered an enormous obstacle in 
that the eye never gives us a true picture of a thing, 
and the brain has learned through experience to make 
the necessary corrections. As an optical instrument, 
the eye is exceedingly poor. The wonderfully efficient 
brain has, however, learned to make the necessary 
corrections. To get some picture of the eye’s inaccur- 
acies, remember that the eyeball is round. A lens 
throws an image on the rounded screen of the retina. 
Look at the reflection of a window as seen in a globe, 
a gold-fish bowl is perhaps the most familiar object 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



217 



of that nature. What shape do the straight lines of the 
window’s edges- take? Then imagine the shape the 
eye actually shows for that same window, or the door. 

We think it perfectly natural that we can walk 
straight to the door, and through it without touching 
the wall. But imagine again the shape in which the 
eye pictures that door ! Is it any wonder a baby, learn- 
ing to make those corrections we find so automatic, has 
difficulty in steering a course through a room that its 
eyes are portraying as some futuristic ai’tist might 
portray it, save that all lines, invariably, are curves? 

Now Arcot and his friends, whose brains had always 
been forced to cor-rect vision-images, tended to cor- 
rect the images now received, though these were correct 
images. In time a different sight-center developed in 
their brains, that did not tend to correct, but for a 
while the men were afflicted with terrific headaches, and 
were continually stumbling into things when not using 
the apparatus as their brains neglected to correct for 
eye-distortion. 

But in the end their brains had developed the two 
abilities, and the full vision and full comprehension of 
everything that happened around the ship and within 
it was theirs. Then Arcot announced he was ready 
to go. 

They had been almost two weeks learning this, and 
now, just before starting off for their attack on Thett, 
they stopped once more on Earth to gather food sup- 
plies. There was now no necessity for gathering energy 
supplies. Anywhere they would find those, anywhere 
save in the cosmic ray regions. Through such regions 
they did not intend to go, but there they could, if neces- 
sity demanded, use the stored energy in their huge coils, 
the equivalent of more than two thousand tons of lead. 

But foods they did need. Water, oxygen or any ele- 
mental need they could take care of by transmutation 
of any electricity base matter they found. 

Their stay was brief, and ah'eady Earth and its allies 
were falling back into the ways of peace and commerce. 
The passenger and freight traffic to Venus were al- 
most up to normal, and already companies had been 
organized to trade with Ortol, Sirius and Talso. Ex- 
ploration ships were starting out to those other plane- 
tary systems, which had been marked on the Thessian 
charts. 

And somewhere out in the void a lone ship was racing 
across the infinite void back to Ortol, far faster than 
light, but slow for such a trip. It would be nearly two 
and a half months before they would know that their 
world had been protected by that distant race wdiose aid 
they had sought when they came to Earth, That cap- 
tured Thessian ship of Ortol had not yet reached home, 
nor would it for long land there. 

But soon Arcot’s supplies w’ere filled, and they were 
ready to travel to that distant Universe they had de- 
termined to be the home of Thett’s forces. It was far 
more distant than Thansal, as the Island of Space which 
contained Nansal, Torlos’ home, had been named, for 
it was nearly one hundred and fifty million light years 
across the void ! 

CHAPTER XXIV 
Venone 

U P from Earth, out of its clear blue sky, and into 
the glare and dark of space and near a sun the 
ship soared. They had been holding it motion- 
less over New York, and now as it rose, hundreds of 
tiny craft, and a few large excursion ships followed it 
until it was out of Earth’s atmosphere. Then — it was 
gone. Gone across sp^e, racing toward that far Uni- 
verse at a speed no other thing could equal. In minutes 



the great disc of the Universe had taken form behind 
them, as they took their route photographs to find their 
way back to Earth after the battle, if still they could 
come. 

Then into the stillness of the Intergalactic spaces. 

“This will be our first opportunity to test the full 
speed of this ship. We have never tried its velocity, 
and we should measure it now. Take a sight on the 
diameter of the Island, as seen from here, Morey. Then 
we will travel ten seconds, and look again.” 

Half a million miles from the center of the Island 
now, the great disc spread out over the vast space be- 
hind them, apparently the size of a dinner plate at 
about 30 inches distance, it was more than two hundred 
and fifty thousand light yeai’s across. Checking care- 
fully, Morey read their distance as just shy of five hun- 
dred thousand light years. 

“Hold on — here we go,” called Arcot. Space was 
suddenly black, and beside them ran the twin ghost 
ships that follow always when space is closed to the 
smallest compass, for light leaving, goes around a 
space whose radius is measured in miles, instead of 
light centuries and returns. There was no sound, no 
slightest vibration, only Torlos’ iron bones felt a slight 
shock as the inconceivable currents fiowed into the 
gigantic space distortion coil from the storage fields, 
their shielded magnetic flux leaking by in some slight 
degree. 

For ten seconds that seemed minutes Arcot held the 
ship on the course under the maximum combined powers 
of space distortion and time field distortion. Then he 
released both simultaneously. 

The velvet black of space was about them as before, 
but now the disc of the Nebula was tiny behind them!, 
So tiny was it, that these men. who knew its magnitude, 
gasped in sudden wonder. None of them had been able 
to conceive of such a velocity as this ship had shown! 
In ten seconds, Morey announced a moment later, they 
had traveled one million, one hundred thousand light 
years! Their velocity was six hundred and sixty quad- 
rillion miles per second! 

“Then it will take us only a little over one thousand 
seconds to travel the hundred and fifty million light 
years, at 110,000 light years per second — that’s about 
the radius of our galaxy isn’t it !” exclaimed Wade. 

“And your Galaxy, Earth man, is the largest there 
is,” pointed out Torlos. 

They started on now, and one thousand and ten sec- 
onds, or a little more than eighteen minutes later, they 
stopped again. So far behind them now as to be almost 
lost in the far scattered universes, lay their own Island, 
and carefully they photographed and marked it. Then 
they photographed the Universe that now lay less than 
twenty million light years ahead. Still, it was further, 
even after crossing this enormous gulf, than are many 
of those nebulae we see from Earth, many of which lie 
within that distance. They must proceed cautiously 
now, for they did not know the exact distance to the 
Nebula. Carefully, running forward in jumps of five 
million light years, forty-five second drives, they worked 
nearer. 

Then finally they entered the Island, and drove to- 
ward the denser center. 

“Good Lord, Arcot, look at those suns!” exclaimed 
Morey in amazement. For the first time they were see- 
ing the suns of this system at a range that permitted 
observation, and Arcot had stopped to observe. The 
first one they had chosen had been a blue-white giant 
of enormous mass, nearly one hundred and fifty times 
as heavy as our own sun, and all the enormous surface 
was radiating power into space at a rate of nearly 
thirty thousand horsepower per square inch ! No planets 
circled it, however, in its journey through space. 




218 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“I’ve been noticing the number of red giants here. 
Look around. They are literally thick around us. Every 
one of these stars seems to be a giant. I can under- 
stand it though. Remember, our Island is the largest 
there is. When it condensed from the primeval chaotic 
gas that filled all space, its mass was greatest, and 
hence it contracted upon itself far more than the others 
and its density became greater. It is not enormously 
larger in bulk than many other Islands, but it is tre- 
mendously greater in mass. Its density is higher. Re- 
member, gravitational instability does not begin to act 
until density, temperature of the gas, and mass of the 
condensation are such that the outermost layers of the 
condensation can be bound by the gravitational attrac- 
tion of the whole. And, the bigger it is, the faster it 
grows once it gets started. Remember, our Island is 
rather further than the other islands from their nearest 
neighbors. The average distance to neighbor Islands 
is greater. If they came too near during that time 
when each was a single enormous mass of gas, ours, 
with its inconceivable gravitational pull, would tear 
them to pieces, by Roche’s law, and probably gobble 
them up. 

“But when suns formed in our dense, heavy galactic 
mass, the density of the gas permitted small masses to 
remain stable, to form, in other words. The masses 
were, of course, suns, and the suns of our system are 
generally of a size a bit smaller than our own star. 

“But in this system, which, as we observe, is an un- 
usually small galaxy, indeed of a size barely above the 
lower limit possible for a galaxy (for no galaxy can 
be less than about five hundred million sun-masses) the 
density of the gas as it fell together under its own 
gravitational attraction, must have been far less than 
in ours. The result was the formation of suns not of 
masses of the order of our sun, but of an order far 
higher. 

“Now we have large suns here, and would expect 
large planets. If we find the run of sun-masses such 
as two hundred and even four hundred times our sun’s 
mass, I shall not be surprised, and a sun four hundred 
times ours would easily throw off a planet four hundred 
times as massive as Jupiter! No wonder those fellows 
liked heavy worlds !” 

W HAT Arcot had said was correct, but he forgot a 
second fact, that when such enormous suns did 
pass to make planets, the inconceivably great pulls on 
them due to tidal action, far greater than our type of 
sun would produce, would tend to tear off masses for 
longer periods, as their passing would be slower, their 
gravitational arms longer, and might strip the entire 
photosphere from a sun. This tended to make few, but 
proportionately larger planets. 

Thett, for example, was one of four planets which 
revolved around the sun Antseck. Their combined mass 
was nearly one one-hundredth that of their primary. 
The entire photosphere of Antseck had been swept off 
in their making, and gathered in these four great 
masses with their satellites. 

But soon the Thought moved on, on to other suns. 
They must find one that was inhabited. 

They stopped at last near a great orange giant, and 
examined it. It had indeed planets, and as Arcot 
watched, he saw in the Telectroscope a line of gigantic 
freighters rise from the world, and whisk off to nothing- 
ness as they exceeded the speed of light ! Instantly he 
started the Thought searching in time fields for the 
freighters. Soon he found them, and followed them 
as they raced across the void. He knew he was visible 
to them, and as he suspected, they soon stopped, slow- 
ing down and signaling to him. 

“Morey — take the Thought. I’m going to visit them 



in the Banderlog as I think we shall name the tender,” 
called Arcot, stripping off the headset, and leaving the 
control seat. The other fleet of ships was now less 
than a hundred thousand miles away, clearly visible in 
the telectroscope. They were still signaling, and Arcot 
had set an automatic signaling device flashing an enor- 
mously powerful searchlight toward them in a succes- 
sion of dots and dashes, an obvious signal, though also, 
obviously unintelligible to those others. 

“Is it safe, Arcot?” asked Tories anxiously. To ap- 
proach those enormous ships in the relatively tiny 
Banderlog, seemed unwise. 

“Far safer than they’ll believe. Remember, only 
the Thought could stand up against such weapons as 
even the Banderlog carries, run as they are by cosmic 
energy,” replied Arcot, diving down toward the little 
tender. 

In a moment it was out through the lock, and sped 
away from them like a bullet, reaching the distant 
stranger fleet in less than ten seconds. 

“They are communicating by thought!” announced 
Zezdon Afthen presently. “But I cannot understand 
them, for the impulses are too weak to be intelligently 
received.” 

For nearly an hour the Banderlog hung beside the 
fleet, then it turned about, and raced once more to the 
Thought. Inside the lock, and a moment later Arcot 
appeared again on the threshold of the door. He 
looked immensely relieved. 

“Well, I have some good news,” he said and smiled, 
sitting down. “Follow that bunch, Morey, and I’ll tell 
you about it. Set it and she’ll hold nicely. We have 
a long way to go, and those are slow freighters, accom- 
panied by one Cruiser. 

“Those men,” he began, “are men of Venone. You 
remember Thett’s records said something of the Mighty 
Warless Ones of Venone? Those are they. They in- 
habit most of this universe, leaving the Thessians but 
four planets of a minor sun, way off in one corner. It 
seems the Thessians are their undesirable exiles, those 
who have, from generation to generation, been either 
forced to go there, or who wanted to go there. 

“They did not like the easier and more effective 
method of disposing of undesirables, the instantaneous 
death chamber they now use. Thett was their prison 
world. No one ever returned, and his family could go 
with him if they desired, but if they did not, they were 
carefully watched for outcroppings of undesirable traits 
— murder, crime of any sort, any habitual tendency to 
injustice. 

“About six hundred years ago of our time, Thett 
revolted. There were scientists there, and their scien- 
tists had discovered a thing that they had been seeking 
for generations — the Twin-ray. I don’t know what it 
is, and the Venonians don’t either. It is the ray that 
destroys relux and lux, however, and can be carried 
only on a machine the size of their forts, due to some 
limitation. Just what those limitations are the Venon- 
ians don’t know. Other than that ray they had no new 
weapons. 

“But it was enough. Their guard ships which had 
circled the worlds of the prison system, Antseck, were 
suddenly destroyed, so suddenly that Venone received 
no word of it till a consignment ship, bringing prison- 
ers, discovered their absence. The consignment ship 
returned without landing. Thett was now independent. 
But they were bound to their system, for although they 
had the molecular ships, they had never been permitted 
to have time apparatus, nor to see it, nor was any one 
who knew its principles ever consigned there. The re- 
sult was that they were as isolated as ever. < 

“This was for two centuries. Two centuries later it 
was worked out by one of their scientists, and the War- 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



219 



less Ones had a War of defense. Tlveir small fleet of 
cruisers, designed for rescue work and for clearing 
space lanes of wrecks and asteroids, was destroyed 
instantly, their world was protected only by the ray 
screen, which the Thessians did not have, and by the 
fact that they could build more cruisers. In less than 
a year Thett was defeated, and beaten back to her 
world, though Venone could not overcome Thett, now, 
for around their planets they had so many forts pro- 
jecting the deadly rays, that no ship could approach. 

“Then Thett learned how to make the screen, and 
came again. Venone had planetoid stations, that pro- 
jected molecular rays of an intensity I wonder at, with 
their system of projecting. It seems these people have 
force-power feeds that operate through space, by which 
an entire solar system can tie in for power, and they 
fed these stations in that way. Lord only knows what 
tubes they had, but the Thessians couldn’t get the power 
to fight. 

“They’ve been let alone since then, they did not know 
why. I told them what their dear friends had been 
doing in that time, and the Venonians were immensely 
surprised, and very evidently sorry. They begged my 
pardon for letting loose such a menace, quite sincerely 
feeling that it was their fault. They offered any help 
they could give, and I told them that a chart of this 
system would be of the greatest use. They are going 
now to Venone, and we are to go with them, and see 
what they have to ’offer. Also, they want a demonstra- 
tion of this ‘remarkable ship that can defeat whole 
fleets of Thessians, and destroy or make planets at 
will’,” concluded Arcot. 

“I do not in the least blame them for wanting to see 
this ship in operation, Arcot, but they are, very evi- 
dently, a much older race than yours,” said Torlos, his 
thoughts coming clear and sharp, as those of a man 
who has thought over what he says carefully. “Are you 
not running danger that their minds may be more 
powerful than yours, that this story they have told you 
is but a ruse to get this ship on their world where thou- 
sands, millions can concentrate their will against you 
and capture the ship by mind where they cannot capture 
it by force?” 

“That,” agreed Arcot, “is where ‘the rub’ comes in 
as an ancient poet of Earth put it. I don’t know, and 
I did not have a chance to see. Wherefore I am about 
to do some work. Let me have the controls, Morey, 
will you?” 

Arcot took the ship, and locked the drive for the pres- 
ent speed and position in relation to the Venonian 
freighters, and proceeded to work. 

The ship was traveling solely on the time device, and 
so the energy of space was available, as it was not 
when using the space drive, since then only their own 
energy could be tapped, and then only if a fluctuation 
could be caused. But now Arcot had the energy of more 
than a million giant suns, each radiating far faster than 
four hundred suns such as ours would do, for a giant 
sun generates at a far higher rate per ton than a 
main-sequence sun. Doubling the mass does not double 
the energy generation rate of a sun, but increases it 
far more than twice. Sirius, only two and a half times 
as massive as Sol, generates twenty-six times as much 
energy. Here, despite the smaller Universe, supplying 
his power-generation stations, Arcot had fully as great 
an energy supply as in his own giant Island. 

S O now he made a new ship. It was made entirely, 
perforce, of cosmium, lux and relux, for those were 
the only forms of matter he could create in space per- 
manently from energy. It was equipped with gravity 
drive, and time distortion speed apparatus, and his 
far better trained mind finished this smaller ship with 



his titanic tools in less than the two days that it took 
them to reach Venone. In the meantime, the Venonian 
cruiser had drawn close, and watched in amazement as 
the ship was fashioned from the energy of space, be- 
came a thing of glistening matter, materializing from 
the absolute void of space, and forming under titanic 
tools such as the commander could not visualize. 

Now this move was partly the reason for this con- 
struction, for while the Venonian was bu.sy, absorbed 
in watching the miraculous construction, his mind 
was not shielded, and it was open for observation of 
two such wonderfully trained minds as those of Zezdon 
Afthen and Zezdon Inthel. With their instruments, and 
wonderfully developed mind-science, aided at times by 
Morey’s less skillful, but more powerful mind of his 
older race, and powerful too, both because of long 
concentration and training, and because of his indi- 
vidual inheritance, they examined the minds of many 
of the officers of the ship without their awareness. 

As a final test Arcot, having finished the ship, sug- 
gested that the Venonian officer and one of the men of 
his ship have a trial of mental powers. 

Zezdon Afthen tried first, and between the two ships, 
racing along side by side at a speed unthinkable, the 
two men struggled with those forces of will, the full 
secrets of which none yet has learned, more than those 
men of the twentieth century learned the full truth of 
electricity, with which they did their amazingly greac 
works considering their almost primitive tools. How 
could those mental forces cross that void through walls 
of cosmium and relux, and remain unchanged? How 
could they travel faster than light, as they must, to 
reach their destination ? 

We do not know, nor did they who used them then 
know. Though Zezdon Afthen struggled, his mind 
was not equal to that of the Venonian, and quickly he 
was in the passive state. Each was gazing at the image 
of the other as seen in the vision screens, and the 
Venonian saw that he had succeeded, and released the 
Ortolian. 

Quickly Zezdon Afthen told Arcot what he had 
learned. 

These men were old, and their minds strong, but 
they, like Terrestrians, had never trained the forces of 
will to work for them, but had relied on the forces of 
Nature. They could not, as could Ortolians, concen- 
trate the combined will of many with effect. But Zezdon 
Afthen had been unable to overcome his opponent, and 
hence had not learned the full truths he had hoped for. 

Arcot had put the machine on manual control during 
this trial, as the mental forces interfered with its con- 
trol, and now he turned all over to Morey. 

“This seems a tremendous amount of effort to take 
over this one point,” he said and smiled, “but it is an 
enormously important point, for we can be sure that 
the results we find for Venonians will also be true for 
Thessians in a large degree. If not, one people or the 
other would have ended this conflict long ago.” 

And he tried it! Sitting in the chair before the visi- 
plate, he looked at the image of the short, powerful 
man in the other ship, and threw all the power of his 
mind into the effort. * But, like some solid wall, he 
could feel the mental force of the iron-boned Venonian. 
The eyes before him on the screen seemed enlarging, 
growing to fill all his sight. 

With an effort he forced back that feeling the Ven- 
onian had caused, and concentrating his force on the 
one idea of blackness, he brought into use those count- 
less billions of newly developed cells that his machine 
had stimulated in teaching him to see in all directions 
at once. 

Eyes seemed to intrude on that black, starry vault 
he pictured, as the Venonian attempted to force back 




220 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



the picture that their rapport was causing in his mind 
as well as in Arcot’s. But gradually the light and 
images on the smooth blackness faded, and then the 
greyness faded, and the vault was black all about. But 
it faded to black last directly before him, and Arcot 
realized that in that section alone had the Venonian’s 
brain been able to meet and resist the foreign sight- 
impression. 

One impression Arcot had succeeded in forcing upon 
his opponent, an impression of black, starry sky. Now 
he wiped out the star’s, and sheer blackness of inter- 
galactic space alone appeared. And again, the stars 
directly ahead lasted longest, faded last. 

Next all about was blankness — and Arcot forced 
upon the Venonian’s brain the conviction that it was 
sleeping, and the blankness was the blankness of un- 
consciousness. 

Slowly the almost physical force that had been fight- 
ing him faded, and Arcot realized that his opponent was 
“convinced,” defeated. 

Arcot let the impressions he had so forced upon his 
own brain relax now, and before him, on the view 
screen, he saw the face of the Venonian, and the eyes 
were closed. He glanced about the room, a tired smile 
on his face — then stared. The Nansalian was sleeping 
too, the sleep of the Venonian! No wonder there had 
been such a multiplicity of eyes — Toi'los, by some mis- 
chance, had been caught in his rapport as well as the 
Venonian, and had, necessarily, fought with him ! 

While the Venonian slept now, Zezdon Afthen and 
Inthel worked rapidly, and soon declared that a trip 
to Venone would be safe, that all Arcot had learned was 
indeed true. 

The easiest way now to wake the two, was to wake 
Tories, and in a moment it was done. Tories stared 
uucomprehendingly a moment, then grinned sheepishly, 
and waved to Arcot. 

“I am sorry — I was too interested, and made the 
mistake of following your thoughts too long. Then 
when I struggled to free my mind, I was caught in 
such forces as I had not dreamed of. I think it was 
the awakening of the Venonian that brought me back!” 

“Terrestrian,” came suddenly the thought from the 
Venonian ship, “that is not the first time I have tried 
that pastime in my monotonous vigils in space, and 
always have we forced upon our opponent the vision of 
some object of common, daily experience. But you over- 
came me by imagination, by picturing a thing I have 
never before pictured — the heavens as seen in all direc- 
tions simultaneously! And I know, too, that you fought 
not one, but two! You say your race is young. If a 
young race can develop such brains as yours, it is best 
we of Venone cement our friendship now!” 

Though Arcot realized that he did not deserve the 
full of this praise, in that it had not been imagination, 
but actual experience that had permitted him to visual- 
ize the heavens, as seen simultaneously in all directions 
as no living creature could see them, he stored away 
in his mind for future use the fact that such an im- 
pression, such a vision was one that no living creature 
who had not thus seen them could capably fight, for 
while he fought with mental experience, the opponent 
would have to use imagination. 

The sun of Venone was close, now, and Arcot pre- 
pared to use as he intended the little space machine 
he had made. Morey took it, and went away from the 
Thought flying on its time field. The ship had been 
stocked with lead fuel for its matter-burning genera- 
tors from the supply that had been brought on the 
Thought for emergencies, and the air had come from 
the Thought’s great tanks. Morey was going to Venone 
ahead of the Thought to scout — “to see if they could 
safely approach so huge a planet,” as Arcot explained. 



H OUKS later Morey returned with a favorable re- 
port. He had seen many of the important men 
of Venone, and conversed with them mentally from 
the safety of his ship, where the specially installed 
gravity apparatus had protected him and the ship 
against the enormous gravity of this gigantic world. 
He did not describe Venone ; he wanted them to see it 
as he had first seen it. 

So the little ship, which had served its purpose now, 
was destroyed, nearly a light year from Venone, and left 
a crushed wreck W’hen two plates of artificial matter 
had closed upon it, destroying the apparatus, lest some 
unwelcome finder use it. There was little about it, 
the gravity apparatus alone perhaps, that might have 
been of use to Thett, and Thett already had the ray — 
so why take needless risk? 

Then once more they w’ere racing toward Venone. 
Soon the giant star of which it was a planet loomed 
enormous. Then, at Morey’s direction, they swung, and 
before them loomed a planet. Large as Thett, near a 
half million miles in diameter, its mass w’as very closely 
equal to that of our sun. Yet it was but the burnt- 
out sweepings of the outermost photospheric layers of 
this giant sun, and the radioactive atoms that make 
a sun active were not here, it was a cold planet. But 
its density was far, far higher than that of our sun, 
for our sun is but slightly denser than ordinary sea 
water. This world was dense as copper, for with the 
deeper sweepings of the tidal straiils that had formed 
it, more of the heavier atoms had gone into its making, 
and its core was denser than that of Earth; nearly 
eleven was its density. 

About it swept two gigantic satellite worlds, each 
larger than Jupiter, but satellites of a satellite here! 
And Venone itself was inhabited by countless millions, 
yet their low, green-tile and metal cities were invisible 
in the aspect of rolling lands with tiny hillocks, dwarfed 
by gigantic bulbous trees that floated their enormous 
weight in the water-dense atmosphere. 

Here, too, there were no seas, for the temperature 
was above the critical temperature of water, and only 
in the self-cooling bodies of these men and in the trees 
which similarly cooled themselves, could there be liquid. 
The sun of this world was another of the giant red 
stars, close to three hundred and fifty times the mass of 
our sun. It was circled by but three giant planets. 
Its enormous disc was almost invisible from the surface 
of the world as the Thought sank slowly through fifteen 
thousand miles of air, due to the screening effect on 
light passing through so much air. Earth could have 
rested on this planet and not extended beyond its at- 
mosphere! Had Earth been situated at this planet’s 
center, the Moon could have revolved about it, and would 
not have been beyond the planet’s surface! 

In silent wonder the teri'estrians watched the titanic 
w’orld as they sank, and their friends looked on amazed, 
comprehending even less of the significance of what 
they saw. Already within the titanic gravitational field, 
they could see that indescribable effects were being 
produced on them, and on the ship. Arcot alone could 
know the enormous gravitation, and his accelerometer 
told him now that he was subject to a gravitational ac- 
celeration of three thousand four hundred and eighty- 
seven feet per second per second, or almost exactly one 
hundred and nine times Earth’^s pull. 

“The Thought weighs one billion, two hundred and 
six million, five hundred thousand tons, with tender, on 
Earth. Here it weighs approximately one hundred and 
twenty-one billion tons,” said Arcot softly. 

“Can you set it down? It may crush under this load 
if the gravity drive isn’t supporting it?” asked Tories 
anxiously. 

“Eight inches cosmium, and everything else supported 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 221 



by cosmium. I made this thing to stand any conceivable 
strain. Watch — if the planet’s surface will take the 
load,” replied Arcot. 

They were still sinking, and now a number of small, 
marvelously streamlined ships were clustered around 
the slowly settling giant. In a few moments more 
people, hundreds, thousands of men were flying through 
the air up to the ship. 

“There are your ‘aquatic’ people, Arcot,” said Morey. 

“I can see them a lot better with this than you can 
with your eyes,” replied Arcot, smiling, “but I notice 
something else. Their skins, those of the Thessians, I 
mean, were reddish, you remember, and they possessed 
an utterly amazing lack of digestive organs, and pecu- 
liar organs they had. Remember what tiny organs they 
had? Now look at the amount of clothing these people 
wear, male and female both. Practically nothing. Aside 
from the fact that clothes weigh something here, mine 
weigh half a ton or so probably, there is reason in that. 
See it?” 

“Lord — they can’t be photo-synthetic animals!” ex- 
claimed Morey, staring now at the people. Though he 
had been here for a short period before, Arcot had 
divined something he had not imagined. These men 
were photo-synthetic, or plant-like people. In a world 
bathed by the radiation of an enormous star, using 
the energy of heat for muscular power, they needed 
an exceedingly small amount of energy in chemical 
form to replace nervous energy, and to replace the body 
parts. Tories, a man using the heat energy of the air, 
as did these people, ate very little at long intervals. 
These people need eat even less, for what they might 
eat was used only for building body materials, for the 
actual building bricks. Even so, like the plant, they 
obtained most of their materials from the air in the 
form of carbon dioxide and oxygen and water vapor. 
Their chemical action was even more perfectly balanced 
than that of the plant, for they could live indefinitely 
in a perfectly airtight vessel, needing neither external 
carbon dioxide supply nor external oxygen supply, 
though the plant consumes more carbon dioxide than 
it gives off. 

Since their sun radiated in the red region principally, 
green would be the color of an object most absorptive 
to red light, and least absorptive to others, as were their 
plants, for the plants used the plentiful red light. But 
the men used high-energy quanta of the blue-green, and 
so had the complementary color in their skins. Though 
not as plentiful as the red, still its higher energy made 
it more available, and more desirable for them. 

A cruiser had appeared, and was very evidently in- 
tent on leading them somewhere, and Arcot followed 
it as it streaked through the dense air. “No wonder 
they stream-line,” he muttered as he saw the enormous 
force it took to drive the gigantic ship through this 
air. The air pressure outside their ship now was so 
great, that the sheer crushing effect of the air pressure 
alone was enormous. The pressure was well over nine 
tons to the square inch, on all the surface of that enor- 
mous ship ! 

T hey landed approximately fifty miles from a large 
city which was the capital. The land seemed abso- 
lutely level, and the horizon faded off in distance in an 
atmosphere absolutely clear. There was no dust in the 
air at their height of nearly three hundred feet, for 
dust was too heavy on this world. There were no 
clouds, no haze could be, for there was water only 
perfect, and perfectly transparent. The mountains of 
this enormous world were not large, could not be large, 
for their sheer weight would tear them down, but what 
mountains there were were jagged, tortured rock, ex- 
ceedingly sharp in outline. 



“No rain — no temperature change to break them 
down,” said Wade looking at them. “The zone of frac- 
ture can’t be deep here.” 

“What, Wade, is the zone of fracture? ” asked Tories. 

“Rock has weight. Any substance, no matter how 
brittle, will flow if sufficient pressure is brought to 
bear from all sides. A thing which can flow will not 
break or fracture. You can’t imagine breaking water, 
water, not ice. Imagine the pressure to which the 
rock three hundred feet down is subject to. There is 
the enormous mass of atmosphere, the tremendous mass 
of rock above, and all forced down by this gravitation. 
By the time you get down half a mile, the rock is under 
such an inconceivably great pressure that it will flow 
like mud. The rock there cannot break; it merely 
flows under pressure. That is the zone of flowage. 
Above, the rock can break, instead of flowing. That is 
the zone of fracture. On Earth the zone of fracture 
is ten miles deep. Here it must be of the order of only 
five hundred feet! And the planetary blocks that make 
a planet’s surface float on the zone of flowage, they 
determine the zone of fracture.” 

The gigantic ship had been sinking, and now, sud- 
denly, it gave a very unexpected demonstration of 
Wade’s words. It had landed, and Arcot shut off the 
power. There was a roaring, and the giant ship trem- 
bled, rocked, and rolled along a bit. Instantly Arcot 
drove it into the air. 

“Whoa— can’t do it. The ship will stand it, and won’t 
bend under the load — but the planet won’t. We caused 
a Venone-quake. One of those planetary blocks Wade 
was talking about slipped under the added strain.” 

Quickly Wade explained that all the planetary blocks 
were floating, truly floating, and in equilibrium just as 
a boat must be. The added load had been sufficiently 
great, so that, with an already extant overload on this 
particular planetary block, this “boat” had sunk a bit 
further into the flowage zone, till it was once more at 
rest and balanced. Some overloading may take place, 
till a force great enough to overcome the friction be- 
tween the planetary blocks arises. Then the slippage 
is sharp, and not smooth, and we have quakes. 

“They wish us to come out that they may see us, 
strangers and friends from another Island,” interrupted 
Zezdon Afthen. 

“Tell them they’d have to scrape us up off the ground, 
if we attempted it. We come from a world where we 
weigh about as much as a pebble here,” said W’ade, 
grinning at the thought of terrestrians trying to walk 
on this world. 

“Don’t — tell them wee’ll be right out,” said Arcot 
sharply. “All of us.” 

Morey and the others all stared at Arcot in amaze- 
ment. It was utterly impossible ! 

But Zezdon Afthen did as Arcot had asked. Almost 
immediately, another Morey stepped out of the airlock, 
wearing what was obviously a pressure suit. Behind 
him came another Wade, Tories, Stel Felso Theu, and 
indeed all the members of their party save Arcot him- 
self! The Galactians stared in wonder — then compre- 
hended and laughed together. Arcot had sent out 
artificial matter images of them all ! 

Their images stepped out, and the Venonian crowd 
which had collected, stared in Avonder at the giants, 
looming twice their height above them. 

“You see not us, but images of us. We cannot with- 
stand your gravity nor your air pressure, save in the 
protection of our ship. But these images are true 
images of us.” 

For some time then they communicated, and finally 
Arcot agreed to give a demonstration of their power. 
At the suggestion of the cruiser commander who had 
seen the construction of a space ship from the empti* 




222 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



ness of space, Areot rapidly constructed a small, very 
simple, molecular drive machine of pure cosmium, mak- 
ing it entirely from energy. It required but minutes, 
and the Venonians stared in v^onder as Arcot’s unbe- 
lievable tools created the machine before their eyes. 
The completed ship Arcot gave to an official of the 
city who had appeared. The Venonian looked at the 
thing skeptically, and half expecting it to vanish like 
the tools that made it, gingerly entered the port. Pow- 
ered as it was by lead burning cosmic ray generators, 
the lead alone having been made by transmutation of 
natural matter, it was powerful, and speedy. The offi- 
cial entered it, and finding it still existing, tried it out. 
Much to his amazement it flew, and operated perfectly. 

Nearly ten hours Arcot and his friends stayed at 
Venone, and before they left, the Venonians, for all 
their vast differences of structure, had proven them- 
selves true, kindly honest men, and a race that our 
Alliance has since found every reason to respect and 
honor. Our commerce with them, though carried on 
under difficulties, is none the less a bond of genuine 
friendship. 

CHAPTER XXV 
Thett Prepares 

S TREAKING through the void toward Thett was 
again a tiny scout ship. It carried but a single 
man, and with all the power of the machine he was 
darting toward distant Thett, at a speed insanely reck- 
less, but he knew that he must maintain such a speed if 
his mission were to be successful. 

Again a tiny ship entered Thett’s far-flung atmos- 
phere, and slowed to less than a light speed, and Sent 
its signal call ahead. In moments the patrol ship, less 
than three hundred miles away, had reached it, and 
together they streaked through the dense air in a 
screaming dive toward Shatnsoma, the capital city. It 
was directly beneath, and it was not long before they 
had reached the great palace grounds, and settled on the 
upper roof. Then the scout leaped out of his tiny 
craft, and dove for the door. Flashing his credentials, 
he dove down, and into the first shielded room. Here 
precious seconds were wasted while a check was made 
of the credentials the man carried, then he was sent 
through to the Council Room. And he, too, stood on that 
exact spot where the other scout, but a few weeks be- 
fore, had stood — and vanished. Waiting, it seemed, 
were foui* councilors and the new Sthanto, Thalt. 

“What news. Scout?” asked the Sthanto, 

“They have arrived in the Universe of Venone, and 
gone to the planet Venone. They were on the planet 
when I left. None of our scouts was able to approach 
the place, as there were innumerable Venonian watch- 
ers who would have recognized our deeper skin-color, 
and destroyed us. Two scouts wei'e rayed, though the 
Galactians did not see this. Finally we captured two 
Venonians who had seen it, and attempted to force the 
information we needed from them. A young man and 
his chosen mate. 

“The man would tell nothing, and we were hurried. 
So we turned to the girl. These accursed Venonians are 
courageous for all their pacifism. We were hurried, 
and yet it was long before we forced her to tell what 
we needed to know so vitally. She had been one of 
the notetakers for the Venonian government. We got 
most of their conversation, but she died of shortest-ray 
(cosmics) burns before she finished. We had been 
forced to use them too much. 

“The Galactians know nothing of the twin-ray beyond 
its action, and that it is an electro-magnetic phenome- 
non, though they have been able to distort it by using 



a sheet of pure energy, a space strain acting on it natur- 
ally, as you. Oh Sthanto, wise one of science, can under- 
stand. But their walls are impregnable to it, and their 
power is so enormous that they have claimed that their 
strange power of creating matter from the pure energy 
of space, as we saw from a distance, would enable them 
to easily defeat it, were it not that the twin-ray passes 
through matter without harming it. Any ray which 
will destroy matter of the natural electrical types, will 
be stopped. 

“The girl was damnably clever, for she gave us only 
the things we already knew, and but few new facts; 
knowing that she would inevitably die soon, she talked 
— but it was empty talk. The one thing of import we 
have learned is that they burn no fuel, use no fuel of 
any sort, but in some inconceivable manner get their 
energy from the radiations of the suns of space. This 
could not be great — but we know she told the truth, 
and we know their power is great. She told the truth, 
for we could determine when she lied, by mental ac- 
tion, of course. 

“But more we could not leaim. The man died without 
telling anything, merely cursing. He knew nothing 
anyway, as we already had determined,” concluded the 
scout. 

Silently the Sthanto sat in thought for some moments. 
Then he raised his head, and looked at the scout once 
more. 

“You have done well. You secured some information 
of import, which was more than we had dared hope 
for. But you managed things poorly. The woman 
should not have died so soon. We can only guess. 

“The radiations of the suns of space — hmmm — .” 
Sthanto Thalt’s brow wrinkled in thought. “The radia- 
tion of the suns of space. Were his power derived from 
the sun near which he is operating, he would not have 
said suns. It was more than one?” 

“It was, oh Sthanto,” replied the scout positively. 

“His power is unreasonable. I doubt that he gave 
the true explanation. It may well have been that he 
did not trust the Venonians. I would not, for all their 
warless ways. But surely the suns of space give very 
little power at any given point picked at random. Else 
space would not be cold. 

“But go, Scout, and you will be assigned a position 
in the fleet. The Colonial fleet, the remains of it, have 
arrived, and the colonists been removed. They failed. We 
will use their ships. You will be assigned. ” The scout 
left, and was indeed assigned to a ship of the colonists. 
The incoming colonial transports had been met at the 
outposts of the system, and rayed out of existence at 
once — failures, and bringing danger at their heels. 
Besides — thei'e was no room for them on Thatt without 
Thessians being crowded uncomfortably. 

As their battleships arrived they were conducted to 
one of the satellites, and each man was “fumigated,” 
lest he bring diseases to the mother planet. Men en- 
tered, men apparently emerged. But they were differ- 
ent men. 

“It seems,” said the Sthanto softly, after the scout 
had left, “that we will have little difficulty, for they 
are, we know, vulnerable to the triple ray. And if we 
can but once destroy their driving units they will be 
helpless on our world. I doubt that wild tale of their 
using no fuel. Even if that be true they will be helpless 
with their power apparatus destroyed, and — if we miss 
the first time, we can seek it out, or drive them off ! 

“All of which is dependent on the fact that they at- 
tack at a point where we have a triple ray station to 
meet them. There are but three of these, actually, 
but I have had dummy stations, apparently identical 
with our other real stations, set up in many places'. 

“This gibberish we hear of creating matter — it is im- 




INVXDERS from the infinite 223 




A hundred feet of the nose was torn off the ship, and the enormously dense air of Thett rushed in. 




224 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



possible, and surely unsuitable as a weapon. Their 
misty wall — that may be a force plane, but I know of 
no such possibility. The artificial substance though 
—why should any one make it? It but consumes energy, 
and once made is no more dangerous than ordinary 
mattei’, save that there is the possibility of creating it 
in dangerous positions. But it consumes too great 
an amount of energy. Force-planes — mere force planes 
— plus a wonderfully developed power of suggestion. 
They do most of their damage by mental impression. 
Remember, we have heard already of the mental sug- 
gestions of horrible things that drove one fleet of the 
weak-minded colonists mad. 

“And that, I think, we will use to protect ourselves. 
If we can, with the apparatus which you, my son, have 
developed, cause them to believe that all the other forts 
are equally dangerous, and that this one on Thett is 
the best point of attack — It will be easy. Can you 
do it?” 

“I can. Oh Sthanto, if but a sufficient number of 
powerful minds, may be brought to aid me,” replied the 
youngest of the four councilmen. 

“And you, Ranstud, are the stations ready?” asked 
the ruler. 

“Oh, Sthanto, they are. The three stations, each with 
its own exceedingly powerful generators has been tied 
in with the great power network of the Four Planets, 
and the Four Satellites. We can pour into the pro- 
jectors of any one station a power equivalent to more 
than three stinuses,”* replied the ex-assistant. “Further, 
we have the most efficient apparatus yet designed. Bet- 
ter than eighty-three per cent of the input appears in 
the form of the third-ray energy. It can be started in 
less than ten seconds.” 

“It should be instantaneous, like the shortest-ray,” 
grumbled the Sthanto. Himself acquainted with the ray, 
he knew perfectly well it was impossible to them, for no 
conceivable power could create the necessary conditions 
in less than five seconds. 

“Vei’y well. And the force-power feeds are aligned 
and tuned? The forts are anchored with the new at- 
tractive ray of the colonists, and shielded by the mag- 
netic inverter from without? What ray screens? What 
thickness of relux? They are supplied with an artifi- 
cial atmosphere, and cooled, protected against heating, 
and capable of floating when the rock melts?” 

“All, Mighty Sthanto. They have triple molecular ray 
screens with a tube we are sure is better than any 
tube hitherto produced, and better than any tube the 
enemy can use to produce his ray. We have at last 
succeeded in putting electricity matter in relux in 
its foi-mation, and have a tube which operates perfectly 
ap to a temperature of over one million degrees, but 
has not been tested completely to higher temperatures.” 

Since their thermometer called absolute zero, zero, 
and the critical temperature of water one hundred, a 
range of close to 660 degrees on the centigrade scale, 
their degrees were better than six times as great as 
ours. The tube would, then, operate at a temperature 
well into the X-ray temperatures. The radiation at 
this temperature would cool any conceivable object, ex- 
cept for the fact that relux was a nearly perfect reflec- 
tor, and hence a nearly perfect non-radiator. By rough- 
ening it, however, they made it radiate and cool itself. 

“What about the effect of the field in disintegrating 
the relux?” snapped the Sthanto. 

“The frequency generated is above that wanted in 
the actual molecular rays or in the screen, and suffi- 
ciently high for the danger region to be passed. A 
screen-field slows the frequency to the desired quantum- 
energy,” replied the Councilor of Science. 

* The stinus was equal to the power of three and one-eighth (approxi- 
mately) tons of matter disintegrated in one second. 



“The forts are anchored with attraction beams, and 
are so stabilized that they will remain in the position 
chosen under any conceivable force. The magnetic 
screen is not such as the colonists used, for that proved 
valueless, but was developed by following out your work 
on Fields-5783-ZA-21 through 84. The new field does 
not fight the magnetic field but by-passes it. It is a 
super-permeable space condition, and leads the magnetic 
field around, as iron will lead it around a piece of cop- 
pei’. To care for stray flux, there is an inner magnetic 
reverse!'. 

“The relux is fifty feet thick, and under even such a 
molecular beam as we now' possess, it would withstand 
the attack itself for two hours, disintegration being 
retarded by our ability to maintain through it the con- 
structive field. 

“I fully believe that we have an armor and an armory 
far superior to our opponent, provided only he does not 
operate on the radiation of the suns of space in some 
way. Our sun alone destroys matter at an unthink- 
able rate. If he can collect its energy — but then, why 
think of such things? It w’ould be utterly and abso- 
lutely impossible to collect energy so distributed, and 
certainly beyond reason to imagine that such a power 
could be handled even were it collected,” declared Ran- 
stud stoutly, overlooking the fact that the sun itself was 
collected, and did handle that energy without difficulty. 
But — men believe what they wish to believe. And 
though they had no reason to fear a ship which would 
be vulnerable to their new weapon, they did not like 
to admit that any other race could surpass them in 
knowledge. 

CHAPTER XXVI 

With Galaxies in the Balance 

T he Thought rose from Venone after long hours, 
and at Arcot’s suggestion, they assumed an orbit 
about the world, at a distance of two million miles, 
and all on board slept, save Tories, the tireless mole- 
cular motion machine of flesh and iron. He acted as 
guard, and as he had slept but four days before, he 
explained there was really no reason for him to sleep 
as yet. 

But the terrestrians would feel the greatest strain 
of the coming encounter, especially Arcot and Morey, 
for Morey was to help by repairing any damage done, 
by working from the control board of the Banderlog. 
The little tender had sufficient power to take care of any 
damages that Thett might inflict, they felt sure. 

For they had not learned of the triple ray. 

It was hours later that, rested and refreshed, they 
started for Thett. Following the great space-chart 
that they had been given by the Venonians, a series of 
blocks of clear lux metal, with tiny points of slowly 
disintegrating lux, such as had been used to illuminate 
the letters of the Thought’s name representing suns, 
the colors and relative intensity being shown. Then 
there was a more manageable guide in the form of 
photographs, marked for route by constellations forma- 
tions as well, which would be their actual guide. 

At the maximum speed of the time apparatus, for 
thus they could better follow the constellations, the 
Thought plunged along in the wake of the tiny scout 
ship that had already landed on Thett. And, hours 
later, they saw the giant red sun of Antseck, the star 
of Thett and its system. 

“We’re about there,” said Arcot, a peculiar tenseness 
showing in his thoughts. “Shall we barge right in, or 
wait and investigate?” 

“Let’s try to confer with them,” said Morey slowly. 
“There is no real hope — but we will be better for it.” 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 



225 



“And I,” said Torlos anxiously, “think it is foolish. 
I am more used to war than you, for countless years 
my people had to fight continuously, and with an enemy 
of the same character as these Thessians. Unless I am 
far wrong, they will immediately ask you to whatever 
place they have best defended, and then turn on your 
ship everything they can bring to bear. They may do 
no damage — I think they will not, but — we did hear of 
a weapon they had been seeking which was even more 
deadly than the twin-ray. They might have it.” 

“I think you are right, Torlos, they will, if they 
are of the character you suppose and I suspect, invite 
us to their best defended point, which is the exact point 
we will want to attack, for with the energy-releasing 
system they have, I doubt if any fortification will be 
dependent on any other, so that weakening and de- 
stroying weaker points will still leave the strong point 
untouched. We will have to risk greater weapons than 
we know of. We will try conference. Zezdon Afthen, 
you can project thought further than we can. We will 
go to Thett itself, and you will try to confer with 
them. I will use manual control.” 

The ship was suddenly but a few millions of miles 
from Thett as Arcot threw on the space control for a 
moment. Then in moments more, the time control 
brought them to the outer limits of Thett’s tremendous 
atmosphere. The moment they became visible, having 
slowed to normal time, a score of ships had darted to- 
ward them, and other scores were coming swiftly 
nearer. 

Zezdon Afthen tried to communicate^ — and suddenly 
fell unconscious. Morey removed the headset he had 
been using, and brought him out of the trance he had 
been forced into by the Thessian’s reply. 

“They have no intention of peace, and will not treat 
with us,” he reported shakily. “They say that all their 
worlds are now defended by the triple-ray!” 

“They have that new weapon,” said Arcot seriously, 
as two huge Thessian battleships exploded into terrific 
flashing energy on the impenetrable wall of artificial 
matter that surrounded the ship. They had dived on 
it at more than fifty times the speed of light. The soil 
beneath was a pool of lava for a hundred miles around, 
and for many more miles glowed red, for already a 
perfect shower of fire was lacing over the great artifi- 
cial matter wall. Thett was pouring cosmics at the ship, 
and the ship fought back with equal energy, while Arcot 
talked. 

“We’ll have to chance it. Where is their main fort 
here?” 

“From the direction, I should say it was to the left 
and ahead of our position,” replied Zezdon Afthen. 

The ship moved ahead, while about it the tremendous 
Thessian battle-fleet buzzed like flies, thousands of ships 
now, and more coming with each second. 

In a few moments the titanic ship had crossed a great 
plain, and came to a region of bare, rocky hills several 
hundred feet high. Set in those hills, surrounded by 
them, was a huge sphere, resting on the ground. As 
though by magic the Thessian fleet cleared away from 
the Thought. The last one had not left, when Arcot 
shot a terrific cosmic ray toward that sphere. It was 
relux, and he knew it, but he knew what would happen 
when that cosmic ray hit it. The solometer flickered 
and steadied at three as that inconceivable ray flashed 
out. 

Instantly there was a terrific explosion. The soil 
exploded into hydrogen atoms, and expanded under 
heat that lashed it to more than a million degrees in 
the tiniest fraction of a second. The terrific recoil of 
the ray-pressure was taken by all space, for it was gen- 
erated in space itself, but the direct pressure struck 
the planet, and that titanic planet reeled! A tremen- 



dous fissure opened, and the section that had been 
struck by the ray smashed its way suddenly far into 
the planet, and a geyser of fluid rock rolled over it, 
twenty miles deep in that world. The relux sphere had 
been struck by the ray, and had turned it, with the 
result that it was pushed doubly hard. The enormously 
thick relux strained and dented, then shot down as a 
whole, into the incandescent rock. 

For miles the vaporized rock was boiling off. Then 
the fort sent out a cosmic, and that cosmic blasted the 
rock that had flowed over it as Arcot’s titanic ray 
snapped out. In moments the fort was at the surface 
again — and a molecular hit it. The molecular did not 
have the enei’gy the cosmic had carried, but it was a 
single concentrated beam of destruction ten feet across. 
It struck the fort— and the fort recoiled under its 
energy. The marvelous new tubes that ran its ray 
screen flashed instantly to a temperature inconceivable, 
and, so long as the elements embedded in the infusible 
relux i-emained the metals they were, those tubes could 
not fail. But they were being lashed by the energy 
of half a sun. The tubes failed. The elements heated 
to that enormous temperature when elements cannot 
exist — and broke to other elements that did not resist. 
The relux flashed into blinding iridescence 

AND from the fort came a beam of pure silvery 
light. It struck the Thought just behind the bow, 
for the operator was aiming for the point where he 
knew the control room and pilot must be. But Arcot 
had designed the ship for mental control, which the 
enemy operator could not guess. The beam was a flat 
beam, perhaps an inch thick, but it fanned out to fifty 
feet width. And where it touched the Thought, there 
was a terrific explosion, and inconceivably violent energy 
lashed out as the cosmium instantaneously liberated 
its energy. A hundred feet of the nose was torn off 
the ship, and the enormously dense air of Thett rushed 
in. But that beam had cut through the very edge of one 
of the ray projectors, or better, one of the ray feed 
apparatus. And the ray feed released the energy of 
space as it was designed to release it, and it released 
it without control; It released all the energy it could 
suck in from space about it, as one single beam of 
cosmic energy, somewhat lower than the regular cos- 
mics, and it flashed out in a beam as solid as matter. 
There was air about the ship, and the air instantly ex- 
ploded into atoms of a different sort, threw off their 
electrons, and were raised to the temperature at which 
no atom can exist, and became protons and electrons. 
But so rapidly was that coil sucking energy from space, 
that space tended to close in about it, and in enormous 
spurts the energy flooded out. It was directed almost 
straight up, and but one ship was caught in its beam. 
It was made of relux, but the relux was powdered under 
the inconceivable blow that countless quintillions of 
cosmic ray photons struck it. That ray was in fact, a 
solid mass of cosmium moving with the velocity of 
light. And it was headed for that satellite of Thett, 
which it would reach in a few hours time. 

The Thought, due to the spatial strains of the wound- 
ed coil, was constantly rushing away to an almost in- 
finite distance, as the ship approached that other space 
toward which the coil tended with its load, and rush- 
ing back, as the coil, reaching a spatial condition which 
supplied no energy, fell back. In a hundredth of a sec- 
ond it had reached equilibrium, and they were in a 
weirdly, terribly distorted space. But the triple-ray 
of the Thessians seemed to sheer off, and miss, no mat- 
ter how it was directed. And it was painfully weak, for 
the coil sucked up the energy of whatsoever matter dis- 
integrated in the neighborhood. 

Then suddenly the performance was over. And they 




226 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



plunged into artificial space that was black, and clean, 
and not a thing of wavering, struggling energies. 
Morey, from his control in the Banderlog, had succeeded 
in getting sufficient energy, by using his space distor- 
tion coils, to destroy the great projector mechanism. 
Instantly Arcot, now able to create the artificial space 
without the destruction of the coils by the struggling 
ray-feed coil, had thrown them to comparative safety. 
! Space writhed before they could so much as turn 
from the instruments. The Thessians had located their 
artificial space, and reached it with an attraction ray. 
They already had been withstanding the drain of the 
enormous fields of the giant planet and the giant sun, 
the attractive ray was an added strain. Arcot looked 
at his instruments, and with a grim smile set a single 
dial. The space about them became black again. 

“Pulling our energy — merely let ’em puli. They’re 
pulling on an ocean, not a lake this time. I don’t think 
they’ll drain those coils very quickly.” He looked at 
his instruments. “Good for two and a half hours at 
this rate, 

“Morey, you sure did your job then. I was helpless. 
The controls wouldn’t answer, of course, with that 
titanic thing flopping its wings, so to speak. What 
are we going to do?” 

Morey stood in the doorway, and from his pocket 
drew a cigarette, handed it to Arcot, another to each 
of the others. who smoked, and lit them, and his own. 
“Smoke,” he said, and puffed. “Smoke and think. 
From our last experience with a minor tragedy, it 
helps.” 

“But— but this is no minor tragedy, they have burst 
open the wall of this invulnerable ship, destroyed one 
of those enormous coils, and can do it again,” exclaimed 
Zezdon Afthen, exceedingly nervous, so nervous that 
the normal courage of the man was gone. His too- 
psychic breeding was against him as a warrior. 

“Afthen,” replied Stel Felso Then calmly, “when 
our friends have smoked, and thought, the Thought 
will be repaired perfectly, and it will be made invulner- 
able to that weapon.” 

“I hope so, Stel Felso Theu,” smiled Arcot, He was 
feeling better already. “But do you know what that 
weapon is, Morey?” 

“Got some readings on it with the Banderlog’s in- 
struments, and I think I do. Twin-ray is right,” replied 
Morey. 

“Hmhm — so I think. It’s a super-photon. What 
they do is to use a field somewhat similar to the field 
we use in making cosmium, except that in theirs, in- 
stead of the photons lying side by side, they slide into 
one another, compounding. ' They evidently get three 
photons to go into one. Now, as we know, that size 
photon doesn’t exist for the excellent reason that it 
can’t in this space. Space closes in about it. There- 
fore they have a projected field to accompany it that 
tends to open out space— and they are using that, not 
the attractive ray, on us now. The result is that for a 
distance not too great, the triple-ray exists in normal 
space— then goes into another. Now the question is 
how can we stop it? I have an idea — have you any?” 

“Yes, but my idea can’t exist in this space either,” 
grinned Morey. 

“I think it can. If it’s what I think, remember it will 
have a terrific electric field.” 

“It’s what you think, then. Come on,” Arcot and 
Morey went to the calculating room, while Wade took 
over the ship. But one of the ray-feeds had been de- 
stroyed, and they had three more in action, as well as 
their most important weapon, artificial matter. Wade 
threw on the time field, and started the emergency lead 
burner working to recharge the coils that the Thes- 
sians were constantly draining. Being in their own 



peculiar space, they could not draw energy from the 
stars, and Arcot didn’t W'ant to return to normal space 
to discharge them, unless necessary, 

“How’s the air pressure in the rest of the ship?” 
asked Wade. 

“Triple normal,” replied Morey. “The Thessian at- 
mosphere leaked in and sent it up terrifically, but when 
we went into our own space, at the half-way point, a 
lot leaked out. But the ship is full of water now. ft 
was a bit difficult coming up from the Banderlog, and 
I didn’t want to breathe the air I w'asn’t sure of. But 
let’s w'ork.” 

T hey worked. For eight hours of the time they 
were now in they continued to work. The supply 
of lead metal gave out before the end of the fourth 
hour, and the coils were nearing the end of their re- 
sistance now. It would soon be necessary for Arcot 
to return to normal space. So they stopped, their cal- 
culations very nearly complete. Throwing all the re- 
maining energy into the coils, they a little more than 
held the space about them, and moved away from Thett 
at a speed of about twice that of light. For an hour 
more Arcot worked, while the ship plowed on. Then 
they were ready. 

As Arcot took over the controls, space reeled once 
more, and they were alone, far from 'Thett. The suns 
of this space were flashing and glowing about them 
now, and the unlimited energy of a universe was at 
Arcot’s command. But all the remaining atmosphere in 
the ship had either gone instantaneously in the vacuum, 
or solidified as the chill of expansion froze it. 

To the amazement of the extra-terrestrians, Arcot’s 
first move was to create a titanic plane of artificial mat- 
ter, and neatly bisect the Thought at the middle! He 
had thrown all the controls thus interrupted into neu- 
tral, and in the little more than half of the ship which 
contained the control cabin, was also the artificial mat- 
ter control. It was busy now. With bewildering speed, 
with the speed of thought trained to construct, enor- 
mous masses of cosmium were appearing beside them in 
space as Arcot created them from pure energy. Cos- 
mium, relux and some clear cosmium-like lux metal. 
Ordinary cosmium was reflective, and he wanted some- 
thing with cosmium’s strength, and the clearness of lux. 

In seconds, under Arcot’s flying thought manipula- 
tion, a great tube had been welded to the original hull, 
and the already gigantic ship lengthened by more than 
five hundred feet! Immediately great artificial matter 
tools gripped the broken nose-section, clamped it into 
place, and welded it with cosmium flowing under the in- 
conceivable pressure till it was again a single great hull 
— but five hundred feet longer. 

Then the Thessian fleet found them. The coils were 
charged now, and they could have escaped, but Arcot had 
to work. The Thessians were attacking with moleculars, 
cosmics, and a great twin-ray. Arcot could not use his 
magnet now, for it had been among those things sev- 
ered from the control. He had two ray feeds, and the 
artificial matter. There were nearly three thousand 
ships attacking him now with a barrage of energy that 
was inconceivably great, but the cosmium walls merely 
turned it aside. It took Arcot less than ten seconds to 
wipe out that fleet of ships ! He created a wall of arti- 
ficial matter at twenty feet from the ship:.— and another 
at twenty thousand miles. It was thin, yet it was ut- 
terly impenetrable. He swept the two walls together, 
and forced them against each other until his instru- 
ments told him only free energy remained between them. 
Then he released the outer wall, and a terrific flood of 
energy swept out. 

“I don’t think we’ll be attacked again,” said Morey 
softly. They would not. Thett had only one other 'fleet. 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 227, 



and had no intention of losing the powers of their gen- 
erators at this time when they so badly needed them. 
The strange ship had retired for repairs — very well, 
they could attack again — and maybe — ^ 

Arcot was busy. In the great empty space that had 
been left, he installed a second collector coil as gigantic 
as the main artificial matter generator. Then he re- 
paired the broken ray feed, and it, and the companion 
coil which, with it, had been in the severed nose section, 
were now in the same relative position to the new col- 
lector coil that they had had with relation to the arti- 
ficial matter coil. Next Arcot built two more ray feeds. 
Now in the gigantic central power room there loomed 
two tremendous power collectors, and six smaller ray 
feed collectors. 

His next work was to reconnect the severed connectors 
and controls. Then he began work on the really new 
apparatus. Nothing he had constructed so far was 
more than a duplicate of existing apparatus, and he had 
been able to do it almost instantly, from memory. Now 
he must vision something new to his experience, and 
something that was forced to exist in part in this space, 
and partly in another. He tried four times before the 
apparatus had been completed correctly, and the work 
occupied ten hours. But at last it was done. The 
Thought was ready now for the battle. 

“Got it right at last?” asked Wade. “I hope so.” 

“It’s right — tried it a little. I don’t think you noticed 
it. I’m going down now to give them a nice little 
dose,” said Arcot grimly. His ship was repaired — ^but 
they had caused him plenty of trouble. 

“How long have w'e been out here, their time ?” asked 
Wade. 

“About an hour and a half.” The Thought had been 
on the time field at all times save when the Thessian 
fleet attacked. 

“I think, Earthman, that you are tired, and should 
rest, lest you make a tired thought and do great harm,” 
suggested Zezdon Afthen. 

“I want to finish it” replied Arcot, unnecessarily 
sharply. For he was tired. 

In seconds the Thought was once more over that 
fortified station in the mountains — and the Triple-ray 
reached out — and suddenly, about the ship, was a wall 
of absolute, utter blackness. The Triple-ray touched 
it, and exploded into corruscating, blinding energy. It 
could not penetrate it. More energy lashed at the wall 
of blackness as the operators within the sphere-fort 
turned in the energy of all the generators under their 
control. The ground about the fort was a great lake 
of dazzling lava as far as the eye could see, for the 
Triple-ray was releasing its energy, and the wall of 
black was releasing an equal, and opposing energy ! 

“Stopped !” cried Arcot happily. “Now here is where 
we give them something to think about. The magnet 
and the cosmics!” 

He turned the two enormous forces simultaneously on 
the point where he knew the fort was, though it was in- 
visible behind the wall of black that protected him. 
From his side, the energy of the spot where all the 
system of Thett was throwing its forces, was invisible. 

Then he released them. Instantly there was a ter- 
rific gout of light on that wall of blackness. The ship 
trembled, and space turned grey about them. The black 
wall dissolved into greyness in one spot, as a flood of 
energy beyond comprehension exploded from it. The 
enormously strong cosmium wall dented as the pres- 
sure of the escaping radiation struck it, and turned 
X-ray hot under the minute percentage it absorbed. The 
Triple-ray bent away, and faded to black as the cosmic 
force playing about it, actually twisted space beyond 
all power of its mechanism to overcome. Then, in the 
tiniest fraction of a second it was over, and again there 



was blackness and only the brilliant, blinding blue of 
the cosmium wall testified to its enormous temperature, 
cooling now far more slowly through green to red. 

“TORD — you’re right Zezdon Afthen. I’m going to 
JLrf sleep,” called Arcot. And the ship was suddenly 
far, far away from Thett. Morey took it over, and 
Arcot slept. First Morey straightened the uninjured 
wall and ironed out the dents. 

“What, Morey, is the wall of Blackness?” asked 
Stel Felso Theu. 

“It’s solid matter. A thing that you never saw be- 
fore. That wall of matter is made of a double layer of 
protons lying one against the other. It absorbs abso- 
lutely every and all radiation, and because it is solid 
matter, not tiny sprinklings of matter in empty space, 
as is the matter of even the densest star, it stops the 
triple-ray. It is not ‘neutronium,’ because cosmic rays 
are where neutronium would be if it existed. If a 
proton and an electron coalesces, we get, not nutronium, 
but cosmic rays. That matter is nothing but protons; 
there are no electrons there, and the positive electrical 
field is inconceivably great, but it is artificial matter, 
and that electrical field exerts its strain not in pulling 
and electrifying other bodies, but in holding space 
open, in keeping it from closing in about that concen- 
trated matter, just as it does about a single proton, ex- 
cept that here the entire field energy is so absorbed. 

“Arcot was tired, and forgot. He turned his mag- 
net and his cosmics against it. The cosmics fought 
the solid matter with the same energy that created it, 
and with an energy that had resources as great. The 
magnet curved space aboqt it, and about us. The re- 
sult was the terrific energy release you saw, and the hole 
in the wall. All Thett couldn’t make any impression 
on it. One of the rays blasted a hole in it,” said Morey 
with a laugh. For he, too, loved this mighty thing, 
the almost living ideas of his friend’s brain. 

“But it is as bad as the space defense. It works 
both ways. We can’t send through it, but neither can 
they. Any thing we use that attacks them, attacks it, 
and so destroys it — and it fights.” 

“We’re worse off than ever!” said Morey gloomily, 

“My friend, you, too, are tired. Sleep, sleep soundly, 
sleep till I call — sleep!” And Morey slept under Zezdon 
Afthen’s will, till Torlos carried him gently to his room. 
Then Afthen let the sleep relax to a natural one. Wade 
decided he might as well follow under his own power, 
for now he knew he was tired, and could not overcome 
Zezdon Afthen, who was not. 

On 'fhett, the fort was undestroyed, and now floating 
on its power units in a sea of blazing lava. Within 
men were working quickly to install a second set of the 
new tubes in the molecular motion ray screen, and other 
men were transmitting the orders of the Sthanto who 
had come here as the place of actually greatest safety. 

“Order all battleships to the nearest power-feed sta- 
tion, and command that all power available be transmit- 
ted to the station attacked. I believe it will be this one. 
There is no limit on the power transmission lines, and 
we need all possible power,” he commanded his son, now 
in charge of all land and spatial forces. 

“And Ranstud, what happened to that molecular ray 
screen?” 

“I do not know. I cannot understand such power, 
for the tubes, it has been proved, heated to a temper- 
ture of over three thousand six hundred million degrees, 
before they ceased operating. This happened in less 
than one-one hundredth of a dnoces (second). The 
power that could do that is inconceivably great. For 
there are more than fifty times the area of my hand 
which can radiate away the heat.” 

What Ranstud referred to was the fact that ah area 




228 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



of one square inch at that temperature, the temperature 
that will break atoms, rearrange their nuclei, can radi- 
ate away energy at the rate of 65 X 10^® horsepower. 
And since there were approximately two hundred square 
inches radiating, that meant power was flowing in at 
more than 13 x 10^® horsepower!* 

“Of course, over and above that terrific power of 
radiation loss, he was fighting our own not inconsid- 
erable energy. And so those tubes lasted only long 
enough to flash once. It is really useless to attempt to 
fight that ray. 

“Then the effect we witnessed when his cosmic hit 
us — I could not have conceived of such power. I am 
sure that we seriously damaged the ship when they 
were forced to retire. That ray that left it was pointed 
in the direction of our satellite, and I am worried as to 
its fate. We cannot know till the light which has been 
generated by that beam reaches our observatories. The 
power from their stations is still flowing in, of course, as 
from the other stations, but it is power that left some 
time ago. 

“But what most worries me is his wall of darkness,” 
said Ranstud seriously. 

“But he was forced to retire for all his wall of dark- 
ness, as you saw. 

“He can maintain it but a short time, and it was full 
of holes when he fled.” 

“Old Sthanto is much too confident, I believe,” said 
an assistant working at one of the great boards in the 
enemy’s fort, to one of his friends. “And I think he 
has lost his science-knowledge. Any power-man could 
tell what happened. They tried to use their own big 
rays against us, and their screen stopped them from 
going out, just as it stopped ours on the way in. Ours 
had been working at it for seconds, and hadn’t both- 
ered them. Then for a bare instant their ray touched it 
— and they retired. That shield of blackness is abso- 
lutely new.” 

“They have many men on that ship of theirs,” replied 
his friend, helping to lift the three hundred ton load 
of a vacuum tube into place, “for it is evident that 
they built new apparatus, and it is evident their ship 
was increased in size to contain it. Also the nose was 
repaired. They probably worked under a time field, for 
they accomplished an impossible amount of work in the 
period they were gone.” 

Ranstud had come up behind them, and overheard 
the latter part of this conversation. “And what,” he 
asked suddenly, “did your meters tell you when our 
ray opened his ship?” 

“Councilor of Science-wisdom, they told us that our 
power diminished, and our generators gave off but lit- 
tle power when his rays gave much, and they told us 
that when his power was exceedingly little, we still 
had much.” 

“Have you heard the myth of the source of his 
power, in the story that he gets it from all the stars of 
the Island?” 

“We have. Great Councilor. And I for one believe 
it, for he sucked the power from our generators, so 
might he suck the power from the inconceivably greater 
generators of the Suns. I believe that we should treat 
with them, for if they be like the peace-loving fools of 
Venone, we might win a respite in which to learn their 
secret.” 

Ranstud walked away slowly. He agreed, in his heart, 
but he loved life too well to tell the Sthanto what to do, 
and he had no intention of sacrificing himself for the 
possible good of the race. 

So they prepared for another attack of the Thought, 
and waited. 



*13 X 10=» = 1,300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 horsepower. 



CHAPTER XXVII 

Man, Creator and Destroyer 

“TXTHAT we must find,” said Arcot, between con- 
y y tented puffs, for he had slept well, and his 
breakfast had been good, “is some weapon 
which will attack them, but won’t attack us. The ques- 
tion is, what is it? And I think, I think — I know.” 
His eyes were dreamy, his thoughts so cryptically ab- 
breviated that not even Morey could follow them. 

“Fine — what is it?” asked Morey after vainly striv- 
ing to deduce some sense from the formulas that were 
chasing through Arcot’s thoughts. Here and there he 
recognized them: Einstein’s energy formula, Planck’s 
quantum formulas, Nitsu Thansi’s electron interfer- 
ence formulas, Stebkowfski’s proton interference, Wil- 
liamson’s electric field, and his own formulas appeared, 
and others so abbreviated he could not recognize them, 
“Do you remember what Dad said about the way the 
Thessians made the giant forts out in space — hauled 
matter from the moon and transformed it to lux and re- 
lux. ’Member I said then I thought it might be a ray 
— but found it wasn’t what I thought? I want to use 
the ray I was thinking of. The only question in my 
mind is — what is going to happen to us when I use it ?” 
“What’s the ray?” 

“Why is it, Morey, that an electron falls through the 
different quantum energy levels, falls successively lower 
and lower till it reaches its ‘lowest energy level,’ and 
can radiate no more. Why can’t it fill another step, and 
reach the proton? Why has it no more quanta to re- 
lease? We know that electrons tend to fall always to 
lower energy level orbits. Why do they stop?” 

“And,” said Morey, his own eyes di’eamily bright 
now, “What would happen if it did? If it fell all the 
way?” 

“I cannot follow your thoughts, Earthmen, beyond 
a glimpse of an explosion. And it seems that is Thett 
that is exploding, and that Thett is exploding itself. Can 
you explain?” asked Stel Felso Theu. 

“Perhaps--you know that electrons in their planetary 
orbits, so called, tend to fall always to orbits of lower 
energy, till they reach the lowest energy orbit, and re- 
main fixed till more energy comes and is absorbed, driv- 
ing them out again. Now we want to know why they 
don’t fall lower, fall all the way? As a matter of fact, 
thanks to some work I did last year with disintegrating 
lead, we do know. And thanks to the absolute stability 
of artificial matter, we can handle such a condition. 

“The thing we are interested in is this: Artificial 
matter has no tendency to radiate, its electrons have 
no tendency to fall into the proton, for the matter is 
created, and remains as it was created. But natural 
matter does have a tendency to let the electron fall into 
the proton. A force, the ‘lowest energy wall,’ over which 
no electron can jump, caused by the enormous space 
distortion of the proton’s mass and electrical attrac- 
tion, prevents it. What we want to do is to remove that 
force, iron it out. Requires inconceivable power to do 

so in a mass the size of Thett — but then ! 

“And here’s what will happen: Our wall of protonic 
material won’t be affected by it in the least, because it 
has no tendency to collapse, as has normal matter, but 
Thett, beyond the wall, has that tendency, and the ray 
will release the energy of every planetary electron on 
Thett, and every planetary electron will take with it 
the energy of one proton. And it will take about one one- 
hundred-millionth of a second. Thett will disappear in 
one instantaneous flash of radiation, radiation in the 
high cosmics! 

“Here’s the trouble: Thett represents a mass as 

great as our sun. And our sun can throw off Energy 




INVADERS FROM THE INFINITE 229 



at the present rate of one ?oI for a period of some ten 
million million years, three and a half million tons of 
matter a second for ten million years. If all of that 
went up in one one-hundred-millionth of a second, how 
many sols?” asked Morey. 

‘‘Too many, is all I can say. Even this ship couldn’t 
maintain its walls of energy against that!” declared 
Stel Felso Then, awed by the thought. 

‘‘But that same power would be backing this ship, 
and helping it to support its wall. We would operate 
from — half a million miles.” 

‘‘We will. If we are destroyed — so is Thett, and all 
the worlds of Thett. Let that flood of energy get loose, 
and everything within a dozen light years will be de- 
stroyed. We will have to warn the Venonians, that 
their people on nearby worlds may escape in the time 
before the energy reaches them,” said Arcot slowly. 

The Thought started toward one of the nearer suns, 
and as it went, Arcot and Morey were busy with the 
calculators, and they finished their work, and started 
back from that world, having given their message of 
warning, with the artificial matter constructors. When 
they reached Thett, less than a quarter of an hour of 
Thessian time had passed. But, before they reached 
Thett, Arcot’s viewplates were blinded for an instant 
as a terrific flood of energy struck the artificial matter 
protectors, and caused them to flame into defense. 
Thett’s satellite was sending its message of instan- 
taneous destruction. That terrific cosmic ray had 
reached it, touched it, and left it a shattered, glowing 
ball of hydrogen. Every other atom on the planet had 
been destroyed by the cosmic rays. 

‘‘There won’t be even that left when we get through 
with Thett!” said Arcot grimly. The apparatus w’as 
finished, and once more they were over the now fiery-red 
lava sea that had been mountains. The fort was still in 
action. Arcot had cut a sheet of sheer energy now, 
and as the triple-ray struck it, he knew what would hap- 
pen. It did. The triple-ray shunted off at an angle of 
forty-five degrees in the energy field, and spread in- 
stantly to a diffused beam of blankness. Arcot’s mole- 
cular reached out. The lava was instantly black, and 
mountains of ice were forming over the struggling de- 
fenses of the fort. The molecular screen was working. 

“I’d like to know how they make tubes that’ll stand 
that, Morey,” said Arcot, pointing to an instrument that 
read .01 millisols. “They have tubes now, that would 
have wiped us out in minutes, seconds, before this.” 

The triple-ray snapped off. They were realigning it 
to hit the ship now, correcting for the shield. Arcot 
threw out his protonic shield, and retreated to half a 
million miles, as he had said. 

“Here goes.” But before even his thoughts could 
send Thett to radiation, the entire side of the planet 
blazed suddenly incandescent. Thett was learning what 
had happened when their ray had wounded the Thought. 

And then, in the barest instant of time, there was no 
Thett. Thei'e was an instant of intolerable radiation, 
then momentary blackness, and then the stars were shin- 
ing where Thett had been. Thett was utterly gone. 

But Arcot did not see this. About him there was a 
tremendous roar, titanic generator-converters that had 
not so much as hummed under the impact of Thett’s 
greatest weapons, whined and shuddered now. The 
two enormous generators, the blackness of the protonic 
shield, and the great artificial matter generator, throw- 
ing an inner shield impervious to the cosmics Thett 
gave off as it vanished, both were whining. And the 
six smaller machines, which Arcot had succeeded in in- 
terconnecting with the protonic generator, were whin- 
ing too. Space was weirdly distorted, glowing grey 
about them, the great generators struggling to main- 
tain the various walls of protecting power against the 



surge of energy as Thett, a world of matter, disinte- 
grated. 

But the very energy that fought to destroy those 
walls was absorbed in defending it, and by that much 
the attacking energy was lessened. Still, it seemed 
hours, days that the battle of forces continued. 

Then it was over, and the skies were clear once 
more as Arcot lowered the protonic screen silently. 
The white sky of Thett cvas gone, and only the black 
starriness of space remained. 

“It’s gone!’’ gasped Torlos. He had been expecting 
it — still, the disappearance of a world 

“We will have to do no more. No ships had time to 
escape, and the risk we run is too great,” said Morey 
slow'Iy. “The escaping energy from that w’orld will 
destroy the others of this system as completely, and it 
will probably cause the sun itself to blow up — perhaps 
to form new planets, and so the process repeats itself. 
But Venone knows better now, and their criminals will 
not populate more worlds. 

“And we can go — home. To our little dust specks.” 

“But they’re wonderfully cvelcome dust specks, and 
utterly important to us, Earthman,” reminded Zezdon 
Afthen. 

“Let us go then,” said Arcot. 

I T was dusk, and the rose tints of the recently-set sun 
still hung on the clouds that floated like white bits 
of cotton in the darkening blue of the sky. The dark 
waters of the little lake, and the shadowy tree-clad hills 
seemed very beautiful. And there was a little group 
of buildings down there, and a broad cleared field. On 
the field rested a shining, slim shape, seventy-five feet 
long, ten feet in diameter. 

But all, the lake, the mountains even, were dwarfed 
by the silent, glistening ruby of a gigantic machine 
that settled very, very slowly, and very, very gently 
downward. It touched the rippled surface of the lake 
with scarcely a splash, then hung, a quarter submerged 
in that lake. 

Lights w’ere showing in the few windows the huge 
bulk had, and lights showed now in the buildings on 
the shore. Through an open door light was streaming, 
casting silhouettes of two men. And now a tiny door 
opened in the enormous bulk that occupied the lake, and 
from it came five figures, that floated up, and away, and 
toward the cottage, 

“Hello, Son. You have been gone long,” said Arcot, 
senior, gravely, as his son landed lightly before him. 

“I thought so. Earth has moved in her orbit. More 
than six months?” 

His father smiled a bit wryly. “Yes. Two years and 
three months. You got caught in another time field 
and thrown the other way this time?” 

“Time and force. Do you know the story yet?” 

“Part of it — Venone sent a ship to us within a month 
of the time you left, and said that all Thett’s system had 
disappeared save for one tremendous gas cloud — mostly 
hydrogen. Their ships w-ere met by such a blast of 
cosmic rays as they came toward Thett that the radia- 
tion pressure made it almost impossible to advance. 
There were tw'o distinct waves. One wns rather slighter, 
and was more in the gamma range, so they suspected 
that two bodies had been directly destroyed, one small 
one, and one large one were reduced completely to cos- 
mics. Your warning to Sentfenm was taken seriously, 
and they have vacated all planets near. It was the 
force field created when you destroyed Thett that threw 
you forward? Where are the others?” 

“Zezdon Afthen and Zezdon Inthel we took home, and 
dropped in their power suits, without landing. Stel 
Felso Theu as well. We will visit them later.” 
{Continued on page 279) 





<iAnt with 
y£uman Soul 



By Bob Olsen 

Author of “Four-Dimensional Transit,” “The Man Who Annexed the Moon,” etc. 



AN immense amount of research has been done on these amazing little insects 
called ants, whose instincts seem to approach the frontiers of true intelli- 
gence. Asked about the accuracy of the etymology in this story, Bob Olsen 
replies, in part: “To the best of my knowledge, it is absolutely correct. Most 
of the facts in my story are universally accepted by myrmecologists. Every inci- 
dent is supported by at least one authority. Also, for two years there have been 
three colonies of different species of ants in my garden. At the expense of my 
rose bushes and other plants, I have permitted them to remain and have spent 
many hours in watching them with my magnifying glass when I should have 
been working. . . .” Mr. Olsen generally does know whereof he speaks in his 
stories, which is one very good reason why they are excellent science fiction. 



Illustrations by MOREY 



An Undesired Rescue 
CHAPTER I 

W HEN I recovered consciousness I was still 
on earth, but in a room totally unfamiliar 
to me. This was a bewildering surprise, 
for I had just committed suicide — at least 
I thought I had — and I expected either 
complete annihilation or a transference to a much more 
torrid climate. 

A strange man was bending over me. In his hand was 
a peculiar rubber cap, which I afterward learned was 
part of a pulmotor. As my eyes flickered open, the 
man spoke to me in a gentle kindly voice. 

“How do you feel?” 

“Rotten!” I told him. That was the beat way I 
could express it. I felt rotten — rotten in body — rotten 
in mind — rotten in soul. My only desire was to die — to 
shuffle off the mortal coil which had become unbearable 
to me ; and here I was, through the efforts of some well- 
meaning but misguided meddler, still alive. 

“I am Doctor De Villa,” the man informed me. “Don’t 
try to talk. I’ll tell you what happened. I saw you 
jump off the pier and I went in after you. For many 
weeks I have been awaiting an opportunity like this. 
Last night my patience was rew^arded. I rescued you 



single handed. It was a tough job. You grabbed me 
around the neck and nearly succeeded in drowning both 
of us. Thanks to a cork jacket I was wearing, I man- 
aged to get you ashore without assistance. This build- 
ing is only two blocks from the pier. I carried you 
here myself. No one else knows about it.” 

Despite his warning not to talk, I couldn’t help 
protesting, “But I wanted to die. Why didn’t you leave 
me alone. What right have you to interfere?” 

“We’ll come to that later. I know you did it on pur- 
pose, of course. That was the principal reason why I 
risked my own life to save you without calling for 
assistance. I have some very definite plans for your 
future, young man. You’ll learn more about them to- 
morrow. In the meantime you’d better get some rest. 
You’ve been through a serious crisis and a good night’s 
sleep will do you more good than anything else. Here, 
take these two pills. They won’t hurt you. Just a 
harmless sedative.” 

The doctor stood over me while I placed the pills under 
my tongue and gulped them down with a swallow of 
water. Then he sat beside my bed and watched me 
intently as I pretended to fall asleep. I found that I 
had set myself a mighty difficult task. Desperately I 
fought against the powerful drug — striving with all 
the will power I could muster to keep my mind alert, 
while at the same time I closed my eyes, relaxed my 



230 





“I 'pushed open the door a feiv inches fwrther. 
. . . Dr. De Villa was standing over an operat- 
ing table. On it lay a creature which 'made 
me think of the farmer ivho said, ‘There ain’t 
no such animal.’ ” 










Sf '.is £V.-< . f . -Wit B rf' < -■ . 



232 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



muscles and breathed heavily to make my captor think 
I was sleeping. 

Just as I was about ready to give up the battle, I 
heard the doctor rise and tip-toe toward the door. The 
latch clicked. A few seconds later I distinguished a 
faint whirring sound like the noise made by an iceless 
refrigerator. 

I slipped out of bed. Groping my way cautiously, for 
the room was dark, I crept toward the door. It did not 
surprise me to find the door locked, but when I dis- 
covei’ed that the knob w’as a dummy and could not even 
be turned, I was utterly bewildered. A few moments 
later, after I had located the switch and turned on the 
light, I was still more astonished to learn that there 
was not even a keyhole in the door. Apparently it could 
be unfastened only from the outside. 

Seeking for some other means of escape, I examined 
the room thoroughly. More surprises. Except for the 
single door through which I was sure the doctor had 
made his exit, there was no other opening in the room 
large enough to allow the passage of a human body. 
Of windows there were none. Yet the room w'as well 
ventilated, thanks to the fresh air admitted through tw'o 
small, heavily grilled ventilators near the ceiling; It 
became apparent to me that I was. in a secret chamber 
w'hich W'as so skilfully hidden in the bowels of an 
apartment or office building that Sherlock Holmes him- 
self would hardly have suspected its existence. 

As I stood there in perplexity with my back to the 
door, I heard an ominous click behind us. I wheeled 
suddenly, expecting to see Doctor De Villa enter, but 
nothing happened. Then I tried the door again and got 
the biggest surprise of my life. It opened easily. 

When I stepped through the opening I found myself 
in a small clothes closet. Now' I w'as getting some- 
where, I thought. It W'as evident that communication 
with the outside could be gained through some secret 
panel in this closet. That ought not to be hard to lo- 
cate, I reflected, as I fought grimly against the drug, 
which I could feel tugging my eyelids shut despite all 
my efforts to keep them open. Finally I had to give 
in, I managed to switch off the light and stagger to 
the bed before the sedative w'on and I fell into a sound 
slumber. 

On aw'akening, my first thought was to resume the 
investigation I had started the night before. I turned 
on the light and softly opened the door. Another sur- 
prise greeted me. Hanging in the little closet were the 
clothes which I had worn when I made my suicidal leap 
into San Diego Bay. The underwear had been laun- 
dered ; the shirt was starched and ironed ; the coat and 
trousers were neatly pressed. 

Here was an unexpected stroke of luck. Though I 
was desperate enough to rush out into the street clad 
oiiiy in a suit of oversized pajamas, the prospect of 
making my escape dressed in a way that would attract 
no attention w'as much more pleasant. That I might 
fail in my attempt to get aw'ay did not enter my mind. 

I took it for granted that I would succeed. 

I w'asn't quite so confident an hour later, after I had 
dressed and gone over every square inch of the closet 
and of the bedroom, without finding the faintest sug- 
gestion of a secret panel. However, I did discover one 
peculiar thing. There was a crack at least a quarter of 
an inch wide between the floor of the closet and that of 
the room. This gave me another idea. I entered the 
closet, closing the door behind me. Working in the 
skimpy light which filtered under the dooi% I again 
explored the walls with my hands. There were several 
hooks in the closet. I tested each one of them in turn. 
The fifth hook — or it might have been the sixth one — 
slid to one side as I grasped it. 

There was a whirring sound, like the one I had heard 



just after the doctor’s departure the night before. The 
floor of the closet shivered and began to descend. This 
verified my suspicion. The closet was really an ele- 
vator. Its starting button was disguised as a clothes 
hook. Undoubtedly it could also be operated from some 
place outside. 

After moving a few yards, the elevator came to a 
standstill. With stealthy caution I pushed the door 
open a tiny crack and peered through the opening. 

The room beyond was brilliantly illuminated. I could 
see only a corner of it, but that was enough to make 
my eyes pop almost out of their sockets. Imprisoned 
in a large box with transparent walls was a preposter- 
ous animal. In the shape of its pointed snout, its round 
erect ears, its short legs and its long hairless tail it 
reminded me of a mouse. But its size was enormous. 
It must have been as large as a full grown kangaroo. 
Strangest of all it was really alive. It paced to and fro 
in the narrow confines of its prison, peering through 
the glass with its huge, beady eyes, which, despite their 
abnormal size, still seemed singularly meek and mouse- 
like. 

I pushed open the door a few inches further. 

What I saw then was more like a horrible nightmare 
than a scene from real life. Doctor De Villa was bend- 
ing over an operating table. On it lay a creature which 
made me think of the farmer who said, “There ain’t 
no such animal.” 

In coloring, in shape, in physiological characteristics 
it was exactly like a honey bee; but its size was so 
stupendous that it left little room to spare when 
stretched out on the table intended for a full grown 
man. It must have weighed at least a hundred pounds. 

I noticed that the top of the gigantic insect’s head 
had been removed. With a delicate scalpel in one hand 
and a pair of forceps in the other, Doctor De Villa was 
performing some sort of operation on the bee’s en- 
cephalon. 

It was then for the first time that I noticed the sin- 
ister appearance of the man who had fished me out of 
San Diego Bay. He was tall--^so tall that his well- 
muscled frame gave the deceptive impression of undue 
slenderness. His face was turned so that I saw it in 
profile. It seemed as clear cut as a cameo, against the 
sable blackness of a velvet curtain a few feet behind him. 
His hair was parted in the middle and was combed 
back in a way that gave a peculiar illusion of two horn- 
like formations protruding from his head. The heavy 
eyebrows, sloping upward at a rakish angle, the aquiline 
nose, the pointed chin, the lips, parted in a sardonic, 
mirthless smile, and the small moustache all suggested 
some familiar person whose picture I had often seen but 
couldn’t quite place. The illusion was heightened by a 
weird, ruddy glow which was cast over his features by 
a light originating in a grotesque piece of apparatus 
nearby. The same light transformed the laboratory 
frock which the scientist was wearing into a blood-red 
cape. 

As soon as I could tear my eyes away from this fas- 
cinating spectacle, I glanced around the visible parts of 
the room in search of an exit through which I could 
make my escape. 

Behind and beyond the doctor I saw a door. To reach' 
it I would have to pass close to the laboring scientist, 
but I felt confident I could accomplish this — particu- 
larly since he seemed so engrossed in his work that his 
attention would not easily be distracted. 

Fortunately for me the floor of the room was covered 
with heavy linoleum. With bated breath and stealthy 
step I tiptoed across the room. When I was directly 
behind my captor I was startled to bear him speak. 
Without interrupting his grewsome task, without even 
turning his head he remarked in a conventional tohe of 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



233 



voice, “Good morning, Mr. Williams. Did you sleep 
well?” 

My only answer was a sudden dash to the door. Much 
to my disappointment, I found it locked. Panic strick- 
en, I seized a small metal laboratory chair and, using 
it as a battering ram, tried to break down the barrier. 

In two long strides. Doctor De Villa was beside me. 
He wrenched the chair out of my hands, as easily as if 
I had been a baby. Wild with fear and anger, I struck 
at him. With his left hand he seized my coat in the 
region just above the top button. When he tightened 
his grip I could sense that the fabric of the woolen gar- 
ment was stretched over my back almost to the bursting 
point. 

I N vain I tried to land a blow on his jaw or to reach 
his shins with the toe of my heavy shoe. His reach 
was so long and his hold so powerful that all my fren- 
zied efforts to punish him or to break his grip were 
futile. Due to the strenuousness of my struggles I be- 
came bathed in perspiration. The blood vessels in my 
face seemed ready to burst. I was- soon panting from 
the terrific exertion. 

The uneven contest seemed to have little effect on 
Doctor De Villa, however. He was just as cool and 
calm and unruffled as if he had just completed dressing 
after a brisk shower bath. 

In a clear voice in which all semblance of excite- 
ment, anger or even resentment were lacking, he said, 
“Don’t you think, young man, that the most sensible 
thing for you to do is to calm down and talk this mat- 
ter over with me in a reasonable way? I have no desire 
to harm you. If you will only listen to what I have to 
say to you, you will soon realize how silly you are to 
behave like this. By doing as I suggest, you have 
everything to gain and nothing to lose.” 

As soon as the first fluri’y of my anger had subsided, 
I began to realize that the doctor was right. I had 
been silly. I ivas acting in a very unreasonable and 
senseless manner. 

“All right!” I gasped. “I quit. Sorry I made such 
a fuss.” 

He released his grip on me. 

Just then a frightful sound came to my ears. It was 
a deafening buzz. Like the deepest tones of a large 
pipe organ it whipped the air of the room into ominous 
vibrations. 

Doctor De Villa made a frantic dash for the oper- 
ating table, but he W’as too late. The colossal insect, 
which apparently had been under the influence of an 
anesthetic, had regained consciousness and had quickly 
severed the frail bonds which held it to the table. 
Maddened by pain, it had taken flight. 

It was a terrifying sight, as it winged drunkenly 
about the room. I could plainly see the throbbing, ex- 
posed brain of the horrible creature. In its great eyes, 
as large as dinner plates, I fancied I could read a 
host of human emotions: Agony, fear, revenge, the 
desire to kill — all seemed clearly reflected in those 
terrible eyes. 

As the monster headed in my direction. Dr. De Villa 
uttered a warning cry, “Careful, Don’t make a sound. 
Stay right where you are without moving a muscle 
and it won’t hurt you.” 

He might as well have asked me to remain standing 
on top of a red hot stove without uttering a sound or 
moving a muscle. 

An involuntary cry of fright burst from my lips. 
Waving my arms in an ineffectual effort to frighten 
the creature, I backed away from it. Of course it was 
the worst thing to do, but I couldn’t help it. My body 
seemed to act mechanically, paying no attention to 
the brain which tried to keep it in control. 



I had supplied the monster with what it had been 
searching for — a victim on which to vent its murder- 
ous anger. Straight for me it hurtled, striking me 
full in the chest and sending me crashing to the floor. 

It was just about to sink its deadly sting into my 
body when Doctor De Villa seized the insect in both 
his hands and tore it away from my prostrated form. 
The bee put up a terrific struggle but De Villa held it 
in such a way that it could not use either its legs or 
its sting on him. 

“Quick!” he yelled to me. “Get the can of ether 
and the large cone from the table there. That’s it. 
Hold the cone so it will completelj^ cover the bee’s head. 
Now pour some of the ether on it.” 

In a few seconds the insect had ceased its struggles. 

“I may as well kill it,” the doctor remarked calmly. 
“There’s not much use to continue with my experiment 
now. The creature will pi'obably die after all that ex- 
citement, so there’s nothing to do but put it out of its 
misery.” 

When he had disposed of the bee, I extended my 
hand to him. He grasped it warmly as I said, 
“Thanks, Doctor. I guess you saved my life.” 

“Yes? You realize that, do you? For the second 
time in less than twenty-four hours, I have saved 
your life. Both times you tried to throw that life 
away. Don’t you think that by this time I have a 
right to decide — at least in a measure — what is to 
be done with that life?” 

As he spoke these words he was standing directly 
in front of the singular piece of apparatus from 
which the powerful beam of blood-red light emanated. 
Looking at him now at close range the illusion of 
weirdness wms even more cogent than it had been 
before. 

I observed that his hair was parted precisely in the 
middle and was combed back in a peculiar fashion sug- 
gesting horns. His piercing eyes, his slanting brows, 
his pointed chin and the sardonic smile on his lips filled 
me with a strange uneasiness. 

Suddenly the mystic switchboard of my brain made 
the connection I had been seeking and I thought I recog- 
nized him. 

“Say!” I gasped. “Now I know who you are. Your 
name is De Villa, all right — with the two last letters 
omitted. You are the devil — ^that’s who you are and you 
saved my life so you could steal my soul!” 

This seemed to amuse him immensely. He laughed. 
It was a hearty, wholesome, honest laugh — not at all the 
sort of a laugh I would expect to hear from his Satanic 
majesty. He turned a switch and the mysterious red 
light was extinguished. 

Instantly the remarkable illusion vanished. All I 
could see then was an ordinary human being. He was 
exceptionally tall, to be sure, and his features were 
somewhat unusual, but everything that suggested to my 
excited mind the presence of the evil one had dis- 
appeared. 

“So you think I’m Mephistopheles?” the Doctor chuc- 
kled. “You are afraid I’ve picked you out to be my 
Faust? That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard in a long 
time.” And he abandoned himself to another spasm of 
laughter. 

When he had recovered himself enough to speak again 
he went on, “Much as I w'ould enjoy playing a rfile like 
that, I’m afraid I can’t qualify. I have no supernatural 
powers. I cannot promise to fulfill all your desires. What 
you may be pleased to call your soul does not concern me 
in the least. However, I am interested in your body; 
and I am willing to make a bargain with you for the 
temporary use of it.” 

“What do you mean?” I gasped. 

“It’s a long story. Too long to listen to on an empty 




234 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



stomach. You haven’t had your breakfast. Neither 
have I had mine. Though I’ve been up and at work for 
several hours, I purposely postponed eating so that I 
could enjoy your company at the table.” 

“That’s mighty thoughtful of you.” These words 
were spoken in full sincerity but I am afraid that the 
unsettled condition of my nerves made my polite phrase 
sound sarcastic. 

CHAPTER II 
The Threat 

I EXPECTED him to produce a key and unlock the 
door, but instead he stood several paces away from 
it and whistled a note which sounded like the call 
of a whip-poor-will. Noiselessly, the door swung open. 
“Your servant seems to be right on the job,” said I. 
“Servant?” he questioned. 

“Why, yes. Wasn’t the door pushed open by some- 
one in the adjoining room who heard’ your whistle?” 
“The door was opened by a servant all right. But 
not by a human one. It’s a purely mechanical device 
operating on the same principle as the televox. Except 
for you and me there are no other human beings in this 
apartment. I always work alone. It is the safest and 
the surest way.” 

He stepped aside, motioning for me to pass through 
the door. The room which I entered was a large one, 
sumptuou.sly furnished as a living room. 

“Here is our kitchen,” he remarked, indicating a 
swinging door. “If you’ll excuse me. I’ll prepare our 
breakfast.” 

“You don’t mean to tell me that you are the cook,” I 
exclaimed. 

“I’ll let you decide that after you have sampled a meal 
prepared by my hands. I can assure you that I have 
had plenty of experience. Without intending to seem 
egotistic, I believe I could qualify as a cook.” 

“Mind if I wait here?” I asked. 

“Certainly not. Make yourself comfortable. You’ll 
find cigarettes on that table and there are plenty of 
books and magazines over there. But you won’t have 
much time for reading. I’ll have breakfast ready in a 
jiffy. The menu is bacon and eggs. Is that satisfac- 
tory to you?” 

“Quite,” I assured him. “But if you don’t mind I’d 
like my eggs scrambled.” 

I waited until I heard the cozy bubbling of the coffee 
percolator and smelled the delightful odor of frying 
bacon. Then I strode to the window and parted the 
heavy velvet curtains. I found myself looking out upon 
San Diego Bay, which was but a few hundred feet 
away. From my elevation I estimated that I was on 
the third floor of an apartment building. 

The casement was built right into the wall. There 
seemed to be no way of opening the window. It was 
also guarded with a heavy grill of hand-wrought iron. 

As I gazed out on the bay, I observed that something 
unusual was happening that morning.. At least a dozen 
row-boats, motor boats and other small craft were 
hovering about the steamship pier. On the dock itself 
a crowd of curious spectators had collected. 

As I watched this puzzling scene, I was startled to 
hear the doctor’s voice almost in my very ear: “Interest- 
ing, isn’t it? Of course, you know what they are 
doing?” 

“I haven’t the slightest idea.” 

“They are hunting — or perhaps I should say fishing — 
for you.” 

“For me?” 

“Yes. For you. There’s a full account of your death 
by suicide in the “Morning Union.” You can read all 



about it while we eat. Come on, Mr. 'Williams. Break- 
fast is served.” 

“That bacon sure smells good,” I remarked as I sat 
down in the breakfast nook. 

“Yes?” He eyed me quizzically. “And to think that 
just a few hours ago you tried to project yourself into a 
place where you’d never be able to enjoy fried bacon 
again. After all, it’s a lot nicer to be sitting here eat- 
ing bacon and eggs, than to be bumping around on the 
bottom of the Bay out there. Don’t you think so, Mr. 
Kenneth Williams?” 

“How did you find out my name?” My question was 
asked merely to make conversation. 

This the doctor seemed to realize, for he didn’t take 
the trouble to answer my query. Instead he went on 
to say, “I can’t tell you how pleased I was when I read 
the slightly exaggerated account of your suicide in the 
“Union” this morning. I feel like a man who went fish- 
ing for perch and caught a ten-pound salmon.” 

“I suppose that is meant as a compliment, but I’m 
afraid I don’t get you,” was my response. 

“Then permit me to explain. According to th§ news- 
paper account, you are an orphan. You have no close 
relatives who are now living. That’s correct, is it not?” 

“Sure! What of it?” 

“Nothing in particular except that it simplifies mat- 
ters immensely. There is no one to consider except you. 
That is an advantage, of course. But the thing that 
delighted me most was the account of your training — 
the work you have already done along scientific lines. 
I hardly expected anything like that when I fished you 
out of the Bay; but it happens to fit in admirably with 
my plans. In fact, had I been able to make a selection 
from among all the young men in Southern California, 
I don’t believe I could have found a person better quali- 
fied than you are.” 

At this point I interrupted him. “Excuse me. Doctor 
De Villa, but what you are saying is all ticker-tape to 
m.e. Would you mind putting me wise — giving me a 
faint idea of what you are driving at.” 

“Very well, then. I want you to help me perform 
an unsual experiment — an experiment which may sound 
preposterous to you but which I am certain will succeed. 
It will bring world-wide fame to me and I hope to you 
as well. If you will give me this assistance willingly, I 
on my part will agree to reward you very generously.” 

“But suppose I am not willing?” I challenged. 

“In that case, I should have to compel you to help me 
— even against your will. I’d much prefer a voluntary 
submission on your part, because, then, our experiment 
would be bound to be more successful and more result- 
ful. But in case you are foolish enough to refuse, I am 
prepared to persuade you by means of force.” 

“So that’s what you are,” I exclaimed hotly. “A 
body-snatcher! You think it is perfectly all right to 
kidnap me and to force me to do something I don’t 
want to do.” 

“You seem to forget that I have some claim on your 
body and your life. What you threw away I recovered. 
For that reason I sincerely feel that your life belongs 
to me to do with as I see fit.” He said this in a grim 
tone, looking me straight in the eye, with an intensity 
that made me shudder. 

I _SHOOK my eyes free from his hypnotic stare and 
tried to pretend I wasn’t frightened. “Don’t kid 
yourself,” I snarled. “You can’t get away with stuff 
like that right here in the very heart of San Diego. I’ll 
find some way to get word to the police. They’ll search 
for me and find me here. Then it will be the big house 
for Doctor De Villa.” 

“I wouldn’t count too much on that if I were yo^u. If 
you knew me better you would understand that I am 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



235 



not in the habit of bungling a matter like this. Natu- 
rally I have taken extraordinary precautions to prevent 
you from communicating with the outside and to avoid 
any possibility of your being found here. The police 
are already searching for you; but there is only one 
place they will think of looking, and that is in the 
waters of San Diego Bay. The note you left in your 
room and the hat which was found on the pier made 
your suicide so obvious that no one would think of any 
other possibility.” 

My only answer was a surly grunt. It was plain to 
me now that I was in the power of this man. There was 
nothing to be accomplished by antagonizing him. 

Doctor De Villa continued, in a tone that was sur- 
prisingly gentle and friendly, “I’m afraid I’ve spoiled 
your enjoyment of your breakfast by getting you into 
this verbal battle. Please forgive me. I didn’t intend 
to make you uncomfortable. On the contrary, I’d like 
very much to help you if you will let me. Why can’t we 
be friends?” 

“Friends?” I scoffed. “That’s a funny word to use 
with a man whom you have threatened as you have me." 

“I didn’t mean to threaten you. My only desire is to 
make your position clear to you. And now the thing I’d 
like to do most is to find some way of helping you. I 
wish you would confide in me. Before you reach the 
point of trying to take your own life you must have 
gone through a period of intense suffering. Your life 
has become so tangled that you can’t see any other way 
out except suicide. But perhaps I, with my wide experi- 
ence and knowledge, can straighten things out for you.” 
“To straighten out my life you’d have to be a com- 
bination of Houdini and Freud,” I said bitterly, 

“Suppose you tell me about it,” he coaxed. “Accord- 
ing to the accounts in the newspapers no one seems to 
understand why you decided to commit suicide. Your 
note gave no explanation. What was the trouble? If 

it was money, I can •” 

“No,” I cut in. “It wasn’t money.” 

“Then perhaps it was a woman.” 

“Not that either,” I denied. “Oh, I guess a girl had 
something to do with making me realize what a mess 
my life was; but she wasn’t the fundamental cause 
of it.” 

“Then what was it?” 

“Religion!” 

“Religion?” The pitch of his exclamation showed that 
even De Villa, who seemed so cock-sure of his knowl- 
edge of human psychology, was astonished at this 
declaration. 

“Yes, religion,” I rejoined. “Or rather, the loss of 
my religion. That’s what made me desperate. That’s 
what forced me to try to end my life.” 

“Please tell me about it,” he said quietly. 

“There’s really not much to it. Before I went to col- 
lege I was extremely religious. So strong was I in my 
belief that I would have sworn on a mountain of Bibles 
that nothing could ever shake my faith. When I entered 
the university I became interested in science and phil- 
osophy. I was shocked to learn that most of my pro- 
fessors were not Christians. A lot of the things they 
taught me wouldn’t jibe with my theological dogmas. 
This bothered me. When I took my perplexities to the 
minister of my church his only answer was, ‘You must 
have faith to believe what you read in the Bible even if 
it does seem contrary to the so-called facts of science.’ 
You see, my religious teachers know nothing of science 
and my science teachers can’t see anything in religion. 
The scientists say, ‘What we tell you can be proved to 
be true.’ And the religious men tell me that their teach- 
ings do not require any proof. I must accept them on 
faith.” 

I paused a moment. De Villa urged me to continue. 



“Ever since I can remember, my belief in Christian- 
ity and in the Bible has been my chief source of guid- 
ance. When that was shattered I was like a ship with- 
out a rudder. I was tossed around in a sea of uncer- 
tainty. I was at the mercy of every passing gale of 
opinion. I had lost the one thing that made life worth 
living.” 

“You said there was a girl,” he reminded me. 

“Yes, there was a girl is right. Her name is Alice 
Hill. But she didn’t have much to do with it, except 
that when I lost my religion I also lost her. I was fool- 
ish enough to discuss the matter with her and to tell her 
I had lost faith in the things that seemed so clear to 
her. We had arguments — foolish, futile arguments— 
utterly senseless because there was no common ground 
on which we could meet mentally. She was shocked at 
the change in me. I don’t blame her for becoming dis- 
gusted with me and refusing to see me any more.” 

“And because of that you decided to end it all?” 

De Villa’s manner as he said this reminded me of the 
way my mother talked to me one day when I ran away 
from home, forever — and stayed out until nine-thirty 
in the evening. 

“Young man,” he added sternly. “The trouble with 
you is that you have been sick. It’s fortunate for you 
that I found you, because I know how to cui'e you. Some 
day you are going to thank me from the bottom of your 
heart.” 

“Then you really think you can straighten me out,” I 
cried eagerly. 

“I’m sure of it. Strange as it may seem, the very 
thing I have planned for you, ought to help substan- 
tially in speeding up your recovery.” 

“But just what have you planned for me. Here we 
have been talking for nearly an hour and still I haven’t 
the faintest idea of what you are driving at. I think 
you will realize that under the present circumstances 
your delay in coming to the point is somewhat 
exasperating.” 

“I’m sorry. Nevertheless, I’ll have to run the risk 
of exasperating you a bit more by asking you if you’d 
like another cup of coffee.” 

“No thanks. Though the coffee is very good I have 
had plenty. I enjoyed the breakfast very much. I 
thank you. And now will you please come to the point. 

“With pleasure. But let’s go back to the laboratory. 
There are some things there I want to show you. I’ll 
need them to make my explanation clear to you.” 

CHAPTER III 
A Startling Proposal 

W HEN I was seated on one of the metal chairs in 
the laboratory. Doctor De Villa picked up the 
thread of our conversation. 

“In order not to continue keeping you in suspense, I 
shall outline my plans very briefly. After that I shall 
supply whatever details seem pertinent and answer any 
questions you wish to ask me. 

“In the first place let me explain that I have invented 
a device with which I can either increase or decrease 
the size of any object without changing any of its other 
properties. When I say any object I mean to include 
not only inanimate objects, but also all living things, 
such as plants and animals. It will work even with 
insects and germs. To save time I’ll postpone an ex- 
planation of the principle of my machine until later. 
Suppose for the time being you accept the possibility 
that I can cause a small insect, such as an ant, to 
increase in size until it is as large as a man. I can then 
make any changes in it that I desire and can subse- 
quently restore it to its original size. Is that clear?” 




236 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Sure ! But what’s that got to do with ” 

“Pardon me for interrupting. If you’ll be good 
enough to listen for just one moment more, you’ll find 
out what this has to do with you. 

“I think you can realize how important my discovery 
is in the study of insect psychology. Hitherto our 
knowledge of mental processes of bugs has been seri- 
ously hampered by the small size of their brains. Prac- 
tically all we know about insects has been derived from 
observation of their behavior. It hasn’t been possible to 
do very much experimentation to determine the relation, 
between certain parts of the brain and the various 
senses and instincts, such as have been performed on 
larger animals, including human beings. 

“By magnifying the size of insects, I have succeeded 
in performing a number of very interesting and illumi- 
nating experiments. The bee which attacked you in 
this room a short time ago was one of my many sub- 
jects. In that particular case I was transplanting the 
brain of a dog into the encephalon of the bee. 

“Through a series of Similar experiments I have defi- 
nitely established the fact that ants possess strong 
memories. I have also located the portion of the ant’s 
brain in which the faculty of memory is located. All 
this has paved the way for the greatest experiment of 
all — an experiment which will bring me undying fame. 
And that’s where you come in. 

“My plan is simply this: I shall place you under an 
anesthetic and shall perform an operation on your head, 
removing that portion of your brain which is the seat 
of your memory. This I shall transplant into the brain 
of an ant, which I have previously expanded to a volume 
corresponding to yours. Then I shall restore the ant to 
its natural size and shall permit it to return to its nest 
and resume its regular activities. My belief is that you 
will be thoroughly cognizant of everything that happens 
to that ant. You will not only be able to observe every- 
thing that goes on around the ant but you will also 
obtain a clear idea of what occurs inside the ant’s brain. 
Later on, I shall capture the ant and shall increase its 
size once more. -After restoring the borrowed brain 
segment to you, I shall bring you back to consciousness. 
You will then be able to describe the mental reactions of 
an ant both objectively and subjectively. What do you 
think of the idea?” 

“Horrible!” I exclaimed. “Unspeakably horrible.” 

“Fm sorry you feel that way about it.” 

“Why shouldn’t I? What’s the good of it? Suppose 
I do go through with this. Suppose your extremely 
optimistic ideas about it are justified and the experi- 
ment is successful, what practical benefit will you or 
any one else derive from it?” 

“If by practical benefit you mean something from 
which money can be made. I’ll have to answer that this 
experiment will have no value that is practical in that 
sense. But in another sense, the work will be of im- 
mense value. It ought to accomplish something than 
which there is nothing more important in human 
history.” 

“And what is that?” 

“Adding to the store of human knowledge. Sui’ely, 
with the training you have had in science, it is not 
necessary for me to convince you that anything that will 
increase knowledge is extremely worthwhile. To ac- 
complish less than this, thousands of really big men 
have sacrificed their lives. 

“But suppose for the present we ignore the effect of 
of this experiment on human progress. Let’s regard it 
from your own selfish standpoint. Let’s consider what 
it will do for you. 

“According to your own admission, your life has been 
a failure. You were ready to throw it away. Do you 
know the real reason for this? You hinted at it when 



you said you were like a ship without a rudder. You 
not only lack a steering mechanism but you also lack a 
destination. You have no purpose — ^that’s why you 
were ready to give up so quickly. Here’s your chance 
to acquire a purpose — a real purpose — the most import- 
ant and significant purpose you could possibly have. 
That’s all you need to make you well and to untangle 
your life — a purpose and the will to accomplish it.” 
“Perhaps there is some truth in that,” I admitted. 
“But I did have a purpose. You thwarted it.” 

“You mean your purpose to destroy yourself, I pre- 
sume. All right, then. Suppose we consider the mat- 
ter solely from that angle. You want to have done 
with living. But what’s the use of throwing away, 
just because you don’t want it yourself, something that 
is valuable to someone else? Wouldn’t it be more sen- 
sible and more sporting to give it away or even to sell 
it?” 

“I don’t believe I get you,” was my response to this 
suggestion. 

He replied by asking me a question: “Do you still 
want to die?” 

“I sure do. Nothing has happened to make me change 
my mind.” 

“And suppose I permitted you to leave this apart- 
ment. Suppose I turned you loose. Would you attempt 
suicide again?” 

“Certainly. Why not?” 

“All I can say is that I am gravely disappointed. I 
had hoped that you would be influenced by what I have 
said to you. However, even if you persist in this unrea- 
sonable and insane obsession of yours, you will still be 
better off if you give or sell your life to me.” 

“What advantage could I possibly gain by selling my 
life ? I can’t take the purchase money with me, can I ?” 
“No, but you can present it to some dear friend of 
yours — Alice Hill, for instance ; or you can donate it to 
some worthy charity.” 

“What good will that do me ?” 

My companion shook his head. 

“You certainly are a sick man. I feel sorry for you. 
‘What good will that do me?’ you ask. What a selfish, 
asinine question! Have you completely lost all sense 
of decency and of your obligations to your fellow men? 
If you insist on dying, isn't it better to die in a way 
that will benefit somebody? A little while ago I said I 
was fortunate in having found you. Now I’m beginning 
to wonder if I wasn’t grievously mistaken. You’re the 
most unreasonable person I’ve ever been associated 
with.” 

I enjoyed his discomfiture. With an insolent grin I 
taunted him : “You seem to have changed your tune, 
doctor. A while ago you informed me that you would 
carry on the experiment whether I consented or not. If 
that’s the case, why take so much trouble trying to gain 
my consent?” 

“Because I want to help you. I am sure that this 
experience will straighten your mind out. Another rea- 
son is that the experiment will accomplish a great deal 
more, if I have your willing cooperation, than if I 
force you into it.” 

“You intimated a moment ago that you would like to 
buy my life. Am I to infer that you are willing to pay 
a considerable sum for my cooperation?” 

“Precisely. Your cooperation is worth ten thousand 
dollars to me. If you wish, I shall place that sum to 
your credit so that you can use it yourself after the 
experiment. For instance, it may make a nice little 
nest egg for you and Alice, after you have straightened 
yourself out. If you wish, you may send the money to 
anyone you desire before you submit to the experiment; 
or you can leave instructions with me as to how to dis- 
pose of the money in case anything happens to you. 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



237 



You may depend on it that your wishes will be carried 
out.” 

“You think, then, that the mission you have chosen 
for me will be dangerous.” 

“■^JATURALLY there will be some risks. But I 
IN shall take extra precautions to reduce these haz- 
ards to the minimum. On the other hand I can prom- 
ise you that your life among the ants will be anything 
but tiresome. It will be crammed full of exciting and 
fascinating experiences. There will be enough adven- 
ture and interesting events to keep jmu from thinking 
about suicide. And, after the experiments are finished, 
if you still are in the same frame of mind, there will be 
nothing to prevent you from carrying out your inten- 
tions. In fact, I shall then be glad to help you make a 
good job of it.” 

“But how about yourself?” I asked. “If we do go 
through with this, isn’t it likely to prove rather risky 
for you?” 

“I can’t see that there would be any risks worth con- 
sidering. Even if there were, I’d gladly assume them 
for the sake of science.” 

“Do you mean to say that you’d be willing to hang for 
the sake of science?” 

“I might. But what’s the use of introducing such 
an impossible conjecture?” 

“What makes you think it impossible. Let’s suppose 
that the experiment is a failure. Suppose I should die 
on your hands. You’d still be encumbered with what 
lawyers call my corpus delicti, wouldn’t you?” 

“That doesn’t worry me in the least. There are a 
thousand ways in which I could get rid of your body. 
Perhaps the simplest way would be to put you back 
where I found you — in the waters of the Baj’’. It would 
be an easy matter to make your head look as if it had 
been battered against the piles of the pier. When the 
searchers out there found your body it wmuld merely 
form a logical conclusion to the chapter which you 
began when you wrote your farewell note and left your 
hat on the dock.” 

“I see you have it all figured out.” 

“Oh, yes. Yes, indeed. I always plan my work very 
carefully in advance, making suitable provisions for 
every possible contingency. That’s why I never make 
any mistakes or commit any blunders.” 

“Then I certainly hope your record for one hundred 
percent efficiency is not broken while you are working 
on me.” 

“Does that mean you are ready to give your con- 
sent?” he cried eagerly. 

I evaded a direct answer to his question. 

“You said something about adventure a moment ago. 
As I remember it you promised that my life among the 
ants will be crammed full of exciting and fascinating 
experiences. Frankly, I don’t see how the life of an 
ant could be at all interesting. I’ve watched the little 
beggars at their work. They seem to be continually 
rushing back and forth like a bunch of Sunday motor- 
ists who are in a terrific hurry to get nowhere and do 
nothing.” 

“If that’s the impression you obtained from watching 
ants, I’m afraid your observations have been very su- 
perficial. Scientists who have devoted years to the 
study of ants have certainly not found them dull or 
uninteresting. It may surprise you to learn that most 
authorities believe that the activities of ants come 
closer to those of human beings than those of any other 
creatures do.” 

“How about the anthropoid apes? I thought it was 
generally conceded that they are more like men than 
any other animals.” 

“Looking at the matter from a purely morphological 



standpoint, that, of course, is true. But from the 
standpoint of behavior — of social activities, mental de- 
velopment, constructive intelligence and similar ‘human’ 
traits, the ant is far ahead of the ape in development. 

“Let me give you an example: In certain tropical 
countries there are vast armies of so-called ‘driver ants.’ 
They travel across the country in serried ranks, like 
well disciplined soldiers. They have their leaders, their 
scouts and their intelligence corps. They search out 
caterpillars, si)iders and other bugs, attacking them, 
killing them and tearing them to pieces. Small animals 
like mice and snakes fall an easy prey to these vandals. 
Even animals as large as elieep or cows, when tethered 
so that they cannot escape, have been destroyed by 
driver ants, who strip every particle of flesh and gristle 
from their bones. Xo doubt you have heard of men 
being tortured and killed by leaving them bound on top 
of an ant hill. 

"Strange as it may seem, however, there are places 
where these foraging ants are regarded as friends of 
men. They make periodic invasions into human habi- 
tations, devouring or driving out all the vermin such as 
cockroaches, spiders and rats which infest the I'oofs and 
walls of tropical homes. The natives call them ‘ants of 
visitation’ and welcome the semi-annual housecleaning 
which they give to their hogies. The ants .stay only long 
enough to do a thorough job of de-verminizing a house 
— then they move on to the next building.” 

He paused. 

“That’s all very interesting,” I remarked. “Of course 
I’ve heard about driver ants, but I had no idea that they 
were so intelligent as your account seems to indicate. 
Was your idea to enlist me in an army of ants like 
that? If it is, I don’t believe I’d care for the job. 

“I wouldn’t mind the sheep and the cows, but I'm 
afraid the spiders and the snakes wouldn’t agree with 
me at all. And as for caterpillars! I remember once 
when I was a bit of a lad I tried to eat a caterpillar. It 
was so hairy and so wiggley that I didn’t enjoy it at all 
— in fact I had to spit it out before I had consumed 
half of it.” 

The Doctor looked at me out of the corner of his eye 
as if he didn’t know whether to laugh or take me seri- 
ously. He compromised by ignoring my attempts at 
being facetious. 

“I had no intention of putting you into a colony of 
driver ants,” he said solemnly. “I merely mentioned 
them because they furnish familiar examples of the 
social activities of ants. There are other species of 
the insects which are far more manlike than the army 
ants. For years I have kept several ant colonies of 
different species under close observation. I intend to 
use them in our experiments.” 

“How many different kinds of ants are there?” I in- 
quired. “About a dozen?” 

“A great many dozen. In fact six thousand differ- 
ent species of ants have been described so far by scien- 
tists. Even this large list is by no means complete. I 
wouldn’t be surprised if, after the job of classifying 
ants has been performed thoroughly, it will transpire 
that there are at least ten thousand different species.” 
Doctor De Villa had been speaking in an academic 
tone — like a professor lecturing tq a class of students. 
Now he became more personal; 

“You seem to be getting interested in our little in- 
sect friends, Mr. Wiliiams. Does that indicate a de- 
cision favorable to my plans?” 

“Not necessarily,” I hastened to hedge. “I’ll have to 
admit, though, that your promise of adventure interests 
me. That’s one thing which has been missing from 
my drab life. I’ve always yearned for excitement and 
perilous adventure and I’ve never had a chance to 
gratify my yen. Perhaps that is what’s wrong with me. 




238 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



My existence has been so commonplace that I’m sick and 
tired of the monotony.” 

De Villa, with the instinct of a master salesman, 
seized eagerly at the opportunity which my admission 
opened up. 

“You are absolutely right! What you need more 
than anything else in the world is adventure ! And can 
you think of any human experience that could be any- 
where nearly as exciting and interesting as to live for a 
while in a colony of ants, participating in their battles, 
their labors and their sports?” 

“Sports?” I gasped. “Do you mean to tell me that 
ants engage in sports?” 

“They certainly do. Ants have their athletic contests 
and their organized games, just as we do. But I’d 
rather not give you any of the details. It will be much 
better, both from the standpoint of your enjoyment and 
the results of our experiments, if you experience these 
things without being confused by any preconceived no- 
tions. However, I want to reiterate what I said before. 
You may be absolutely sure that your life among the 
ants will be crammed full of adventure and interesting 
experiences. Won’t you just accept my word for this 
and tell me right now that you are wilting to cooperate 
with me?” 

“Do I have to decide right now?” I procrastinated. 

“Not at all. Take as much time as you wish. Natur- 
ally, after having progressed this far, I’m eager to go 
ahead. But perhaps it will be just as well if you defer 
your decision until you know more about the scientific 
discoveries which will make it possible for me to trans- 
fer your consciousness and memory-faculties into the 
body of an ant. Would you care to hear about them 
now?” 

“Sure! Fire away!” 

CHAPTER IV 
The Mysterious Force 

D octor de villa led me to a fantastic mechan- 
ism near one corner of the room. The most 
prominent feature of the device was a chamber 
shaped like a large bathtub turned upside down. It 
was built of steel and was provided with four large 
glass windows, one at the curved end, one at the top and 
one at each side. I estimated that it was about eight 
feet long, three feet wide and four feet high. The flat 
end was open but was equipped with a semicircular door 
of steel which was hinged at the bottom and could be 
closed hermetically by means of six strong bolts with 
wing nuts. Surrounding this peculiar contrivance was 
a bewildering array of coils, tubes, levers and dials. 

“This is what I call my Volumalter,” the doctor an- 
nounced. “I’m sorry I can’t explain all the details of 
the mechanism to you. For one thing, it’s pretty com- 
plicated — even for a man of your scientific training to 
understand. Another reason is that I haven’t had it 
patented yet, and I can’t take chances of having the idea 
stolen.” As he said this there was a twinkle in his 
eyes which told me he was kidding. 

“I can tell you this much though,” he continued. “My 
machine makes use of a brand new kind of energy which 
is utterly different from any other kind which has 
hitherto been discovered. Perhaps I can make it a trifle 
clearer by using two analogies. You know that inani- 
mate objects may be made to expand by the application 
of heat. Of course the amount of expansion which can 
be produced in this way is relatively small. I mention 
it merely as an illustration of expansion produced by 
the application of force — in this case the force of heat 
The usual explanation of this phenomenon is that the 
increase in temperature causes increased molecular 



activity, which also brings about the increase in size. 

“Another example of expansion is illustrated by the 
sponge. When dry its volume shrinks enormously but 
when the pores are filled with water or some similar 
liquid, the volume of the sponge is increased consider- 
ably. 

“Please don’t get the idea that the system I use is 
directly analogous to the methods illustrated by the 
heated iron or the soaked sponge. At the same time 
there is a faint similarity between my process and the 
last named method. 

“You probably know that all objects — including in- 
sects, men and other animals, are porous. They are 
made up of particles of matter which do not touch each 
other but are separated from each other by space. In 
searching for a way to make things larger without de- 
stroying their characteristics, my task was simply to 
find some way to make the particles of matter move 
further away from each other, thus increasing the 
volume of the spaces between the molecules. 

“After years of patient research I discovered a mar- 
velous substance. It is neither a solid, a liquid nor a 
gas. In most of its properties it is like a very tenuous 
gas but it resembles a liquid in that it is held together 
by a very powerful cohesive force and it resists efforts 
to compress it. I call this substance SPACITE, The 
Volumalter includes a mechanism for generating Spacite 
and for forcing it into the pores of objects. It also con- 
tains a device for drawing the Spacite out of an object 
which has become impregnated with it. But I suppose 
the best way to make the system clear to you is to give 
you a practical demonstration.” 

He stepped to a cabinet and took down a glass beaker 
which was half full of earth. 

“Since we are interested primarily in ants. I’ll start 
with one of these industrious creatures. I took some 
of them away from their home yesterday. They belong 
to the genus atta, commonly known as the leaf cutting 
ants.” 

While he was talking, he poked around in the beaker 
with a pair of tweezers. He finally captured one of the 
insects and placed it inside the vaulted chamber of the 
Volumalter. Then he closed the door, clamping it firmly, 
in place with the wing nuts. 

“Can you see it in there?” he asked, indicating one of 
the side windows. 

I peered through the glass and was just barely able to 
distinguish the tiny creature which looked utterly in- 
congruous as it scampered about what to it was an 
enormously large room. 

“Aren’t you going to tie it up so it will stay put,” I 
asked. 

“No,” he replied. “That isn’t necessary. The stuff 
works exactly the same whether it moves around or re- 
mains perfectly still. See if you can keep your eye on 
the ant. Watch what happens to it when I turn on the 
power.” 

He threw in a switch, opened a valve and adjusted 
one of the dials. From the intei’ior of the machine 
came a low, droning hum. 

I expected to see the ant stop suddenly, but it didn’t 
give the slightest indication that anything unusual was 
happening to it. For an instant I took my eyes away 
from the ant and looked at the doctor, but he was too 
much occupied with the controls of the machine to pay 
any attention to me. When I glanced back I was sur- 
prised to see that the ant had already expanded until it 
was fully five inches long. In open-mouthed astonish- 
ment I watched the creature as it grew larger and 
larger. It was almost as if the living insect was a hol- 
low rubber balloon which was being inflated right in 
front of my eyes. 

Soon it had become so large that it could no 'longer 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 239 



scamper around. Instead it paced back and forth, like 
a lion in a narrow cage. Still it continued to grow un- 
til it was so large that it had only room enough to move 
a few inches in each direction. Then the inventor of 
the device operated the controls again and the expan- 
sion process ceased. 

For the first time since he had started the machine, 
De Villa spoke : 

“There you are. You get the idea now, don’t you? 
The brain of that ant is now approximately the same 
size as yours. It will be a simple matter to make a 
transfer of memory faculties. What do you think of 
it?” 

Strange to say, I was more interested in the appear- 
ance of the insect than in the miracle I had just wit- 
nessed. 

“Ugly beast, isn’t it?” I said with a shudder. 

“Do you think so? To me it is beautiful. Notice the 
symmetry of its body, the perfect co-ordination of the 
six legs, the splendor of its coloring and the efficiency 
of its mandibles.” 

“It’s well armed, all right. Gosh, but I’d hate to get 
nipped by that baby. But it must feel funny, all blown 
up like that.” 

“On the contrary, I doubt if it has noticed any differ- 
ence in itself. The only change it has observed has 
been in its surroundings. It thinks that the chamber 
in which it is confined has diminished in size — that’s 
all.” 

“Will it keep on living if you take it out of there?” 

“Certainly. Let me shovi' you.” 

“Never mind. I’ll take your word for it. If you let 
that monster out, it might take a notion to chew my 
head off.” 

“You don’t need to be afraid of anything like that. 
I’ll just anesthetize it for a minute and transfer it to 
one of my glass cages. Do you see this valve over here? 
It controls the ventilation inside the chamber. Right 
now I am supplying the ant with just the right amount 
of pure air. When I turn this the air current is re- 
placed by a supply of nitrous oxide, which as you know 
is the ‘laughing gas’ which dentists use. Now watch 
what happens.” 

I watched. The insect, which had been moving for- 
ward and backward in the narrow confines of its prison, 
suddenly stopped and cocked its head to one side as if 
to listen. Then one of its legs seemed to give way and 
it began to .stagger. A moment later it was lying mo- 
tionless on its side. 

The doctor turned the valve again, waited for a few 
Seconds and then opened the door at the end of the 
device. 

“Give me a hand, will you?” he said to me. “I can 
lift it alone, of course, but it’s a little bit easier for two 
to carry it.” 

I WAS surprised to notice how heavy the creature 
was and I made a mental note to ask De Villa about 
it as soon as we had put the ant in a place of safety. 
We carried the inert body to a cage right next to the 
one in which the giant mouse was imprisoned. The 
inventor stepped on a small lever and the front of the 
cage swung open. We deposited the insect in the recep- 
tacle and closed the door. Glancing at an indicator con- 
nected with the cage. Doctor De Villa adjusted a valve 
and i-emarked, “I’ll give it an extra shot of oxygen to 
bring it back quickly.” 

As he spoke, I saw one of the insect’s legs twitch. A 
few minutes later it was running around in the cage as 
if nothing had happened. 

“It doesn’t look like it felt any pain or discomfort, 
does it?” De Villa remarked. 

“No,” I admitted. “But how do you account for the 



enormous increase in weight. From your description of 
the principle and from the way the creature looked 
when it was being blown up I expected that it would be 
very light. With the same amount of matter in its body 
spread over such a tremendously greater volume, I 
should think its density would be extremely small.” 
“You seem to forget that I have added something to 
the ant’s body. Although Spacite is very tenuous it has 
an appreciable density; in fact, it tends to assume the 
same density as the matter which surrounds it. Are 
you convinced now that my theories are practical ?” 

“I suppose so. But I’m afraid there is one flaw in 
your scheme which will knock the whole plan into a 
cocked hat.” 

This assertion of mine — the assertion of a callow 
youth to a man of marvelous scientific achievement, 
must have sounded ridiculously egotistical. But De 
Villa was very tolerant of my self-assurance. He merely 
grinned good naturedly and asked, “Just what is this 
flaw you think you have discovered?” 

“You seem to have forgotten that my brain will be in 
a totally different condition from the brain of the ant 
after it is blown up. I can easily understand how you 
can reduce that monstrous insect back to its normal 
size by sucking out the Spacite that you used to inflate 
it with. But how about that piece of human brain 
inside the ant’s skull? Wouldn’t that remain exactly 
the same size? And if it did, wouldn’t the brain tissues 
be destroyed when they were crushed inside the con- 
tracting walls of the ant’s head?” 

Much to my surprise, the doctor gave me a friendly 
slap on the back. “Let me compliment you, young fel- 
low. Your question shows that you have been using that 
brain of yours. However, it happens that my scheme, 
as you call it, makes provigion for the seeming flaw. 
The best way to convince you of this is to show you 
another demonstration. If you’ll pardon me a moment, 
I’ll see if I can find a subject.” 

He disappeared into the living room and a few min- 
utes later came back with a cat in his arms. “Let me 
make you acquainted with Omar, my Persian kitten,” he 
joked. “Omar and I are great friends. These experi- 
ments of mine are an old story to him. Here, Snookums, 
hop in there,” and he bundled the cat into the chamber 
of the Volumalter. 

While he was closing the door and adjusting the con- 
trols, De Villa said, “You will notice that the name of 
my machine, ‘Volumalter’ indicates that it alters vol- 
ume. It makes things either larger or smaller and it 
works both ways equally well. 

“First I shall fill the pores of the cat’s body full of 
Spacite. To make sure that I have done this, I shall 
keep the power on until I notice a slight increase in the 
animal’s size. This indicates that the Spacite has com- 
pletely filled all the space between the particles of mat- 
ter in the cat’s body, completely displacing whatever 
other medium was there before. All I have to do is to 
withdraw some of the Spacite. I do this by means of 
this lever. Now the chamber is connected with a 
mechanism which sucks the Spacite out of the cat’s 
body, thus causing the molecules of matter to draw 
closer together. Notice what happens.” 

This time, instead of expanding, the creature inside 
the Volumalter began to grow smaller. At the end of 
about ten minutes it was less than an inch long. De 
Villa turned off the power and opened the door. Pick- 
ing up the tiny creature, he placed it in the palm of my 
hand. It sat there nonchalantly for a while, licking its 
tiny paw and washing its face; then it curled its fore- 
legs under its body and lay down in a most cat-like man- 
ner. I stroked it gently with the tip of my little finger. 
By holding it close to my ear I could barely distinguish 
a faint, but contented purr. 




240 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Gee!” But that’s cute!” I exclaimed. “I bet you 
could make a lot of money selling cats like this. They 
would be right in style, you know.” 

“Right in style?” De Villa questioned. “I don’t be- 
lieve I comprehend your meaning.” 

“Can’t you see? It fits in with the modern vogue for 
small things — pee-wee golf courses, miniature gardens, 
midget automobiles and all that sort of thing. Imagine 
what a hit a flock of microscopic cats and dogs would 
make !” 

“There may be possibilities in your idea,” the doctor 
laughed; “but I’m afraid I can’t take the time to go 
into the midget animal business. I have too many 
other matters of extreme importance to occupy my 
attention. First of all I should like to know if you are 
satisfied concerning the feasibility of my plan.” 

“I have to believe my own eyes, don’t I?” was my 
response. 

“That isn’t always a safe rule to follow, but in this 
case you may be certain that your eyes have not de- 
ceived you. That being the case, the next thing I would 
like to know is whether you intend to co-operate with 
me willingly.” 

“Sure thing!” I said. “Since it looks as if I’ll have 
to go through with it anyway, I may as well be a sport 
and do it willingly.” 

“Great!” he cried, grasping my hand and pressing it 
warmly. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this, 
Kenneth. It means more to me than anything else in 
the world. Let me thank you from the bottom of my 
heart.” 

“Oh, that’s 0. K.,” I stammered. 

Now that the die was. cast,-! felt a strange surge of 
emotion swirling inside of me. I turned my head away 
so that De Villa could notice the unmanly tears which 
were welling up in my eyes, despite all my efforts to 
hold them back. When I could control my voice, I said, 
“I guess I ought to thank you, too. Not so much because 
you saved my life. You’ve done mor’e than that. You’ve 
given me a reason for wanting to live and to accomplish 
something. I hope you’ll excuse me for the senseless 
things I’ve said and done. Will you?” 

“Of course, I will, Kenneth, my friend. There really 
isn’t anything to excuse. You simply acted on your 
natural impulses. I knew you would come around when 
you really understood.” He glanced at his wrist watch. 
“Hello! It’s after one. My stomach says it’s time for 
lunch. Come on. Let’s adjourn to the kitchen and I’ll 
give you a good Job peeling potatoes.” 

CHAPTER V, 

Final Instructions 

W HILE we were eating an excellent luncheon, pre- 
pared by Doctor ,De Villa, with me acting as 
scullion, my host discussed with me the details 
of our proposed experiment. 

“Does it make any difference to you when we start 
work?” he asked, 

“Not a bit. Now that the thing is decided, the sooner 
we get going the better it will suit me.” 

“That’s splendid! Suppose we plan to commence 
early tomorrow morning. Will that be satisfactory?” 
“Can’t we start this afternoon ?” 

“That might be possible, but I don’t think it would 
be advisable. There are a number of preparations to be 
made. It will be necessary for me to give you complete 
instructions and to make sure that you understand 
thoroughly what you are to do.” 

“0. K. Can’t you start shooting me full of informa- 
tion right away?” 

“I suppose I could. But suppose we eliminate the 



shop talk for the present — at least while we are eating.” 
“You’re the doctor. But as far as I’m concerned I 
can’t think of anything more interesting to talk about 
than what you call shop talk.” 

“Very well, then, suppose you tell me what to do 
with the ten thousand dollars which I am going to turn 
over to you?” 

“Listen, Doc,” I said familiarly. “I don’t like the 
idea of selling myself for a sum of money like that. If 
you want to do so, you can pay me a salary, but even 
that won’t be necessai-y, since I can’t very well spend 
the dough while I’m masquerading as an ant.” 

“But after the experiment is completed and you re- ' 
sume your life as a human being, I think you will then 
find that ten thousand dollars will come in very handy.” 
“Perhaps so. Let’s leave it this way, then. You keep 
the money. If I need any of it. I’ll call on you. Is 
that 0. K.?” 

“Yes, of course. But suppose — Oh, I may as well be 
frank with you and tell you that, although I shall take 
every possible precaution to safeguard your life — you 
will be in constant danger. Suppose I do not succeed 
in bringing you back. Suppose you are lost or killed — 
what shall I do with the money then?” 

“Keep it yourself.” 

“But isn’t there someone you’d like to give it to— 
your girl friend, Miss Hill, for instance.” 

“No. I’m afraid it wouldn’t help her. It would be 
more likely to harm her. Her folks are well fixed. She 
has always been pampered and petted. Ten thousand of 
her own might spoil her.” 

“And there is no one else.” 

“Not a soul.” 

“But how about charity? Isn’t there some worthy 
cause toward which you would like to contribute this 
money — as a sort of memorial — a tribute to the memory 
of Kenneth Williams?” 

“Nix! When I pass on, the sooner I am forgotten the 
better it will suit me. But if it will make you feel any 
better, you pick out the charity yourself and donate the 
money in the name of the Unknown Scientists who are 
constantly risking and sacrificing their lives in the 
interests of human knowledge.” 

“That’s an excellent idea, Kenneth, and you deserve 
a great deal of credit for thinking of it.” 

For a while we ate in silence. Then I began to 
snicker. 

“What’s the cause of all this risibility?” my com- 
panion wanted to know. 

“I just thought of something. Suppose while I am 
engaging in the industrial, domestic and social activi- 
ties of the ant colonies, I happen to fall in love with a 
cute little lady ant? Isn’t it possible that I would be- 
come so infatuated that I would want to get married, 
settle down and raise a family of little antlets all 
my own ?” 

This amused the doctor immensely. It was several 
minutes before he could stop laughing long enough to 
talk. 

“I can see that you don’t know much about the matri- 
monial affairs of ants,” he chuckled. “In the first place, 
the ant into whose body I intend to transfer your con- 
sciousness will not be a male, but will be a worker. 
Perhaps I ought to explain that in one sense there are 
three different sexes of ants. They are the female or 
queen ant, the winged male and the workers. The 
workers are really females but, except in very rare 
cases, they do not propogate. Some naturalists refer 
to them as being of the neuter sex. 

“Many ant colonies contain only one queen. All she 
does is lay eggs. She never leaves the nest. Food is 
brought to her by the workers who make up the bulk 
of the inhabitants. When the eggs hatch out, Some o| 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 241 



the young ants are born with wings, while the remain- 
der, the workers, are born without wings. On a certain 
day, the winged ants — male and female — emerge from 
the nest and launch forth on the nuptial flight. The 
males have very large sharp eyes. Weddings take place 
in midair. 

“The male ant is a very stupid fellow. His only pur- 
pose is to reproduce the species. He is so helpless that 
he can’t even make his way back to the nest or find food 
for himself. Usually he dies within a few days after 
the marriage.” 

“If that’s the case, I don’t think I’d care to be a male 
ant,” I interposed, 

“I didn’t think you would. The life of a woi'ker is 
much more interesting,” 

“"OUT what about the queens? What happens to 
D them?” 

“They immediately proceed to establish colonies of 
their own. Various methods are used by different 
species. Sometimes the fertile queen calmly appro- 
priates the nest belonging to another queen, murders 
her royal rival and takes posse.ssion of the throne. In 
other cases she ingratiates herself with the w'orkers, 
and they turn against their old queen and put her to 
death, 

“But the most common method is for the queen to 
start a colony with her own offspring. 

“The first thing she does on alighting is to tear off 
her wings. The large wing muscles are gradually ab- 
sorbed by her body, thus providing sustenance for her 
during the time it takes for her first eggs to hatch. 

“She searches out a suitable place, in a cavity or 
under a stone, and there she starts to lay eggs. She 
takes care of the first arrivals herself, but as soon as 
enough wmrker ants have matured they immediately 
tackle the work of excavating a nest, feeding the queen 
and caring for the eggs subsequently laid. As a result 
of the one nuptial flight, a queen ant can produce a 
family numbering several hundred thousand.” 

“Whew!” I exclaimed. “There’s certainly no birth 
control or race suicide among the ants, is there?” 

“Hardly,” he replied. “That’s one reason why they 
have advanced so rapidly. 

By this time we had finished our luncheon. 

“Let’s go back to the laboratory,” the doctor sug- 
gested. “I have some work to do, if you don’t mind. 
But it is more or less mechanical in character, I can 
talk to you while I am working.” 

He donned a pair of overalls, rolled up his sleeves and 
began to putter around with the Volumalter, cleaning, 
oiling and adjusting the various parts of the machine. 

“Have you any questions you would like to ask before 
I give you your final instructions?” he inquired. 

“Yes, I have. Whereabouts is the ant colony located 
— the one w'here I am supposed to belong?” 

“In the garden of my estate. It’s between here and 
the Mexican border. I have a place that is ideal for 
the purpose. In it there are seventeen ant hills, all of 
different species of ants. Three of them were estab- 
lished there naturally. The others I started myself, by 
bringing a fertile queen and a few workers from nests 
in various parts of the United States, Mexico and other 
countries. I have taken a great deal of pains to provide 
the environment needed by each species of ant to develop 
naturally and prosperously, so that all my colonies are 
living exactly as they would in their native habitats,” 

“Have you picked out any particular colony to be my 
future home?” 

“I have given the matter some thought, but haven’t 
decided definitely yet. It is only fair that your prefer- 
ences, if you have any, should be taken into 
consideration.” 



“How should I know which one to select? To me 
one ant hill looks just like any other one.” 

“It all depends on how you feel about adventure and 
danger. For my part, I’d much rather start you out in 
a peaceful colony whei'e the risk would be minimized. 
There are several reasons for my preference: One is 
that it will give you a better opportunity to orientate 
youi'self and to become accustomed to your ant body 
before being forced to face any serious crisis. Another 
reason is that I am anxious to surround the first phase 
of our experiment with every possible safeguard. My 
chief concern is to verify my belief that you will remem- 
ber everything that happens while you are occupying 
the ant’s body. After we have established this point, in 
case you yearn for more excitement and adventure, I 
can easily place you in a colony where you are sure to 
have plenty of strife and turmoil.” 

He paused a moment, as if waiting for my reaction. 
“What you say sounds reasonable enough,” I re- 
sponded. “I meant what I said about craving adven- 
ture, all right, but there’s no need of jumping into 
serious danger right off the reel. The peaceful colony 
sounds good to me. What am I supposed to do after 
I get into it?” 

“That question reminds me of a story. Stop me if 
you’ve heard it. A middle-aged lady was taking her 
first ocean voyage. She went to the captain and said, 
‘Suppose I get seasick, what shall I do?’ To which the 
captain replied, ‘Don’t worry, Madame, you’ll do it.’ ” 
“You mean that my actions will be governed by in- 
stinct or something like that?” 

“Within certain limits, yes. The main thing for you 
to do is to act naturally. Do whatever seems to he the 
best thing under any given set of circumstances. About 
all the instructions I have to give you is concerning the 
means by which I can get you back again.” 

“Now that you mention it, that is rather impoi'tant, 
isn’t it?” I rejoined. “In a family of several hundred 
thousand, all looking exactly alike, it isn’t going to be 
so easy for you to pick out little me, is it? Gosh, I’m 
glad you thought of that!” 

“I try to think of everything. Several schemes have 
occurred to me. I believe the most simple one will be 
for me to tie a fine white hair around your body. Then, 
when you want to come back you can separate from the 
others and stand by yourself in a conspicuous place near 
the nest. I’ll visit the nest at periodic intervals. With 
the aid of a reading glass. I’ll be able to recognize you. 
Then I can pick you up and bring you back to the 
laboratory. 

“In case I wish to summon you, I shall signal to you 
with a riveting machine. By operating this in contact 
with the ground a few feet away from the nest, I shall 
produce a miniature earthquake, which will be different 
from any other vibration in the earth and which you 
will be able to feel no matter where you are or what 
you are doing. When you feel the earthquake, you are 
to come into the open and stand still a short distance 
away from the nest. Do you understand?” 

“Sure ! That sounds simple enough. But you haven’t 
told me yet what kinds of ants you have selected to be 
my sisters.” 

“I have a very fine colony of leaf -cutting ants. The 
insect we enlarged this morning is one of them. She 
will make a good subject for our experiment just as she 
is. Take a good look at her, so you'll know what you’ll 
look like after the operation.” 

Following his suggestion, I stepped to the glass cage 
in which the giant ant was confined and gave it a 
thorough examination. It didn’t take long for me to 
understand what De Villa meant when he said the ant 
was beautiful. As I gazed at it then, realizing that 
soon my will would be directing that wonderfully formed 




242 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



body, it seemed to be one of the most attractive objects 
I had ever beheld. 

De Villa called me away from my admiring scrutiny. 

“If you want me to, I’ll give you a brief account of 
the activities of the leaf-cutting ants. I’d rather not 
tell you very much, however, because that might inter- 
fere with the spontaneity of your observations. These 
ants obtained their name because of their habit of 
biting off pieces of leaves and carrying them into their 
nests. No one has ever seen an ant eat these leaf parti- 
cles. It has been definitely established that the ants 
don’t use them for food. The first thing I want you to 
find out is what use the ants make of these leaf frag- 
ments. Scientists, of course, have been able to find out 
something about this mysterious custom, but I’d rather 
not tell you what the purpose of the leaf-gathering is. 
Your observations should either verify or disprove the 
usually accepted explanation of this phenomenon. Is 
that clear?” 

“Clear as buttermilk,” I assured him. “All I have to 
do is act like an ant detective. I’ll snoop around the 
nest, find out what becomes of the leaf particles and 
come back and report to you.” 

“You don’t necessarily need to come back right away. 
The likelihood is that you’ll find other interesting things 
in the ant nest. If you feel like it, you can remain for 
several days, or as long as you wish.” 

“0. K. Whenever you are ready, I’ll be there with 
bells on.” 

1 SPENT the remainder of the afternoon helping Doc- 
tor De Villa with his laboratory work. 

At six o’clock we ate another homemade meal. After 
dinner we adjourned to the living room. In some mys- 
terious manner, the evening paper had made its appear- 
ance on one of the tables. 

It isn’t often that a person is permitted to read his 
own obituary notice; but that rare privilege was ac- 
corded to me. There on the front page of the “San 
Diego Evening Tribune” I was startled to see my own 
photograph staring back at me. Most astonishing of 
all, right next to me was a portrait of Alice Hill. Our 
pictures were linked together with an enormous inter- 
rogation point. Above them, printed in stud-horse type 
was the caption: 

“COLLEGE STUDENT IS LOVE SUICIDE” 

There were no less than three articles in that issue of 
the paper in which my supposed suicide was discussed. 
One of them was a sti^aight news item, telling about the 
two notes I had written, one to Alice and the other to 
my landlady. The discovery of my hat on the steamship 
pier and its subsequent identification were also men- 
tioned. The article closed with a description of the 
unsuccessful attempts which had been made to recover 
my body. 

The second article was written by someone who had 
communicated with the University authorities. From 
it I was surprised to learn that my former professors 
had regarded me as a model student. I couldn’t help 
smiling when they attributed my act to a nervous break- 
down brought on by overstudy. 

But the story that gave me the biggest kick was the 
one signed by a sob sister who had interviewed Alice. 
She was reported to have said that we had been sweet- 
hearts ever since we were in grade school. She told of 
the way I had begun to get strange ideas about religion 
and how because of this she had quarreled with me. 
According to the lady reporter, she wept copiously dur- 
ing the entire interview and declared that now that I 
was dead she was just beginning to realize how much 
she had really loved me. 

Reading this filled me with an intense longing to see 



Alice again. My first impulse was to ask Doctor De 
Villa for permission to phone or write to her, but after 
deliberating the matter more leisurely, I came to real- 
ize I ought not to do that even if my host would permit 
it, which was doubtful. What was the use of letting 
her know I was alive, only to have her find out that I 
was embarking on an enterprise from which I might 
never return? 

So I stifled my yearning to communicate with Alice 
and said nothing about it to Doctor De Villa. 

After I had finished reading the paper, I had a little 
chat with my host. “What is your opinion about re- 
ligion, Doctor?” I asked him. 

“I’m glad you brought this subject up, Kenneth,” he 
replied. “I’ve been wanting to talk to you about it. If 
you don’t mind my saying so, your case illustrates the 
familiar aphorism that a little knowledge is a danger- 
ous thing. You learned just enough to destroy what 
you call your faith in religion. The fact that your pre- 
vious belief was so easily undermined shows that it 
wasn’t very well established in the first place. I think 
you will find this to be true. If you will keep on study- 
ing science and psychology and philosophy, you should 
begin to regain your faith in the teachings of Christ. 
You will cease to quibble about inconsequential details 
and will devote your attention exclusively to the funda- 
mental principles. When you do that you will find it 
quite easy to reconcile your religion with your science 
and vice versa.” 

“Maybe you are right,” I told him. “Anyway, I hope 
so. If you feel like that after all the studying you’ve 
done, I guess there must be a heap of truth in what 
you say. It was a lucky thing for me that you hap- 
pened to be watching when I jumped off that pier. I 
can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am to you.” 
“Please don’t say any more about that. You’ve 
already shown your gratitude in the best way you possi- 
bly could — by agreeing to help me with your willing 
and whole-hearted co-operation. This is going to be a 
wonderful event, my boy. I just feel it in my bones. It 
is going to bring everlasting fame to both of us.” 
“Let’s hope so,” I chimed in. “And now, if you don’t 
mind. I’ll hit the hay. This has been a strenuous day 
for me and I think a little sleep will do me good.” 

I started toward the laboratory with the idea of 
entering the elevator and returning to my chamber on 
the floor above, but I was arrested by De Villa’s voice: 
“Where are you going?” 

“To my room. You needn’t bother to go with me. 
I found out how to operate the elevator.” 

“It won’t be necessary for you to sleep there tonight. 
I designed that room merely to take care of emergen- 
cies such as occurred last night. Now that you have 
decided to be sensible and reasonable I have much more 
pleasant sleeping quarters for you.” 

He led me to a spacious bedroom located in a corner 
of the building. It had windows opening toward the 
south as well as toward the west. 

“Aren’t you afraid I’ll sneak out on you?” I hinted. 
“I’m sure there is no danger of that. I know I can 
trust you. Now that you understand everything thor- 
oughly, you are free to do as you please.” 

“Thank you. Doctor. Thank you and good-night.” 
“Good-night and pleasant dreams,” he said as he 
closed the door softly behind him. 

CHAPTER VI 
The Great Adventure 

B right and early the following morning I rolled 
out of bed, dressed and went to hunt up Doctor 
De Villa. I found him in the laboratory, W 9 rking 
assiduously. 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 243 



“Gee, but you are a hustler?” I exclaimed after we 
had exchanged greetings. “Don’t you ever get any 
rest? It looks to me as if you are always working.” 

“Not always. I had six hours of refreshing sleep 
last night. That’s plenty for me. There is so much 
to be done and so little time in which to do it, 
that I can’t afford to waste a single second. Are you 
ready?” 

I began to feel a bit weak at the knees. 

“Ready?” I stalled. “Aren’t we going to have break- 
fast before we start ?” 

“I’ve already had my breakfast. I hope you don’t 
think I’m unhospitable or inconsiderate, but it will be 
much better if you don’t eat any breakfast, in fact it 
would be very unwise for you to eat anything just be- 
fore the operation. However, you don’t need to worry 
about being hungry. I shall promise you a nice break- 
fast of orange honey, just as soon as you have come out 
from under the ether in the guise of an ant.” 

“All right, then. But before we start, let me ask 
you one thing more. After you have cut open the ant’s 
head and have transplanted part of my brain to the 
insect’s skull, won’t it take quite a while for the wound 
to heal?” 

“Only a few minutes. I shall not attempt to replace 
the section of the ant’s skull. Instead I shall close the 
opening with a special kind of cement. It dries quickly, 
forming a shell that corresponds perfectly with the 
outer covering of the ant’s head. Within an hour after 
the time I commence, you will be read3’' to be put back 
into the ant nest.” 

“And will you use the same system when you bring 
me back again?” 

“No. In that case I shall graft the bone back in 
place. It will take longer to heal, of course, but it will 
leave your head exactly as it is now.” 

“I’m glad to know that,” I said with a gasp of relief. 
“Imagine the kidding I’d get if my friends found out 
I had a chunk of cement in my cranium !” 

After I had repeated my readiness to proceed with 
the operation, Doctor De Villa got out a pair of clippers, 
a razor and a shaving brush. 

“I’ll have to give you a hair cut and a shave,” he 
declared. “That’s for sanitary reasons, you understand. 
Don’t worry about your hair— it will soon grow in 
again.” 

.With surprising skill he clipped, lathered and shaved 
my head. 

“Now we are ready for Miss Ant,” he announced. 
“Would you like to help me, or do you think the sight of 
the brain would bother you?” 

“It won’t bother me in the least. I’m not at all 
squeamish.” 

Nevertheless, I did feel myself becoming faint when I 
saw the living, throbbing grey tissue exposed to view. 

When his work of preparing the ant was completed, 
the surgeon placed over the insect’s body a dome-like 
cover, which he clamped fast to the operating table. 

“That will protect it against infection while I am get- 
ting you ready,” he explained. 

As a final measui’e of precaution, he lathered my head 
again and scrubbed it vigorously with a stiff brush. 
Then he opened the door of the Volumalter and invited 
me to crawl inside. 

When I reached the crucial point in the proceedings I 
began to feel a sinking sensation in the region of my 
solar plexus, but I wouldn’t for the world have allowed 
the doctor to know I was scared. To cover up my fright 
I attempted a rather feeble jest. 

“By the way, Doc,” I remarked as I was climbing into 
the chamber of the machine. “When you serve me that 
honey for breakfast, would you mind letting me have 
some hot biscuits to go along with it?” 



I stretched myself out at full length with my feet 
toward the door, which De Villa promptly closed. 

Through the window I could see him as he adjusted 
the controls. Soon I distinguished the low hum which 
told me that the machine was in operation. I waited 
for a series of strange sensations but nothing of the 
sort did I notice. The only change I observed was that 
the chamber in which I was confined seemed to become 
slightly smaller. Then it expanded again to its former 
size. Before I could realize what had happened, the 
door opened and I heard the doctor’s voice call out, “All 
right, Kenneth. Can you wiggle out yourself, or do 
you want me to help you?” 

When I was standing beside him again, he asked me, 
“You didn’t notice any unpleasant sensations did you?” 

“Not a bit. In fact, I had no unusual sensations at 
all — either pleasant or unpleasant.” 

“Very well. Now suppose you lie down on this other 
operating table.” He punched a hole in a can of ether 
and placed a cone over my face. I filled my lungs with 
the sweet, penetrating vapor. My body began to feel 
pleasantly numb. I was floating off into space, sup- 
ported in some mysterious manner on a bed of swirling 
clouds. Then I took one more deep breath and lost 
consciousness completely. 

When I came to, my surroundings seemed bewilder- 
ingly strange to me. My eyesight was somewhat dim, 
but what it lacked in intensity, it made up in range of 
vision. I noticed a shiny, polished surface, evidently 
some metal part of the laboratory equipment, and stood 
in front of this make-shift mirror. I was startled to 
see the heads of several ants staring back at me. I 
learned later that it was my own head, duplicated many 
times by the multiple lenses of my ant eyes, which 
enabled me to see things in several different directions 
at the same time. 

But the sensation that was uppermost in my mind 
was that of smell. I detected the most delightful odor, 
which seemed to thrill me through and through. It 
wasn’t long before I discovered the honey which, true to 
his promise. Doctor De Villa had placed in front of me. 
After I had eaten a generous portion of it and had 
stowed away some more in my crop, I became obsessed 
with the idea that I must return to my home and share 
my treasure with my comrades. 

Then I felt the floor on which I was standing move. 
I was lifted up and deposited in some sort of receptacle. 
Followed then a great deal of jolting and tossing about, 
which I attributed to the effects of an automobile trip. 
Finally something grasped hold of me and I was depos- 
ited on the soft, warm earth. I soon became aware of 
the presence of other ants who were hustling back and 
forth, too busy to pay any attention to me. There were 
two lines of them, moving in opposite directions. Those 
going one way were carrying bits of leaves in their 
mandibles, while the others had no burdens at all. 

As I stood there for an instant wondering what to do 
next, one of the ants, who was slightly separated from 
the rest of the line, stopped in her tracks and began 
waving her antennae around. Apparently she had seen 
me or caught my scent. She approached me and began 
to size me up. It was a very thorough examination she 
gave me, exploring my entire body with her quivering 
antennae and sniffing excitedly. She seemed to under- 
stand that there was something unusual about me and I 
began to fear that I would not pass muster. It 
appeared, however, that her final judgment was in my 
favor, for she began to stroke my head in a most affec- 
tionate manner. 

Before I realized what was happening I felt a very 
pleasant sensation and a droplet of honey which I had 
instinctly disgorged from my crop appeared on the end 
of my soft spongy tongue. Instantly my companion 




AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 




*‘l stretched myself out at full- 
length with my feet toward the 



door, tvkich De Villa promptly 
closed. . . . Through the window I 
could see him as he adjusted the 
controls." 






THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 245 



pressed her mouth to mine, kissing me with all the fer- 
vor of a loving sister and swallowing the drop of honey 
contentedly. 

T his was my first experience with the ceremony of 
regurgitation, which plays an enormously import- 
ant part in the life of every ant. The word “ceremony” 
is the proper designation for this act because it is 
always conducted in a formal, almost reverent manner. 
The ants are able to practice it universally because of a 
peculiar part of their physical make-up. This organ is 
the crop, which may well be called a “social stomach.” 
In it the ant deposits and stores liquid food which is not 
digested but is kept intact. Only a small part of this 
food can get into the digestive system of the ant carry- 
ing it. , The sole purpose of the food storage is a phil- 
anthropic one, namel}% that of feeding her companions. 
Here is an example of Christian spirit that cannot be 
duplicated elsewhere. The ant is the most charitable of 
creatures. She owns nothing — not even the contents of 
her own body. And so long as there is a drop of food 
left in her crop she will give it away freely, not only to 
friends, but also to guests and in some cases even to 
enemies. 

I don’t want to give the impression that the ant 
looks upon regurgitation as an act of conscious charity. 
On the contrary, she does it instinctively and mechani- 
cally and she gets an immense amount of enjoyment out 
of it. Among the ants it is literally true that “it is 
more blessed to give than to receive.” 

Perhaps this looks like a long digression that has no 
bearing on my story. I can assure you, however, that it 
is extremely relevant an4 pertinent. It is impossible 
to understand the ant nature and ant character without 
having a clear idea of the important part which regurgi- 
tation plays among them. 

Having thus been welcomed into my new environment 
with a kiss from one of my sisters, I immediately fell 
in with the procession of ants which was moving away 
from the formicary. Soon I came to the stem of a bush, 
upon which I climbed. Even without the examples set 
by my companions I seemed to know exactly what to do. 
I crawled out on a leaf and chewed a slit in the form of 
a semi-circle. This formed a sort of fiap, which I 
grasped in my mandibles, tearing it loose with a quick 
jerk. Back along the branch I ran, carrying the leaf 
particle in my pincers. By following on the heels of the 
others I found my way back to the nest. Here we 
dropped the leaf fragments. They were picked up by 
other ants who were considerably smaller than the rest 
of us. These "home-bodies” never went more than a 
few inches beyond the opening of the nest. Their job 
was to carry the leaf particles inside and to get them 
ready for their ultimate purpose. Though I was still in 
the dark regarding the function which the leaves were 
to perform I seemed to understand clearly that all this 
work had something to do with our food supply. 

On one of my trips to the formicary I witnessed a 
horrible tragedy. For some time I had noticed one indi- 
vidual ant who had been acting in a very strange man- 
ner. Instead of joining in our work, she wandered 
about in an excited manner as il she were looking for 
something. Whenever she came close to any of the 
other ants they would snap at her with their mandibles 
and chase her away. Once she came near me and I 
noticed that, although she looked exactly like the rest of 
us, she had a very unusual and unpleasant odor. In 
some mysterious manner I became aware of the fact 
that she was of the same nationality as my companions 
but belonged in another nest. Apparently she had 
strayed so far away from her own city that she had lost 
her bearings and had been unable to find her way home 
again. 



Finally she had the temerity to crawl right to the 
opening of our nest. Before she had time to enter she 
was accosted by a terrible creature. It was an ant all 
right, and in some respects it resembled the little leaf- 
bearers very closely. On the whole, however, it looked 
like an entirely different species of insect. Compared to 
its tiny sisters its size was enormous. I estimated that 
it must have been at least two-thirds of an inch in 
length. Its head was much larger proportionately than 
the rest of its body and was armed with a huge and 
wicked-looking pair of pincers. It was clearly evident 
that those mandibles were built for fighting rather than 
for labor. 

The gate keeper made a quick inspection of the 
intruder and condemned her on the spot. Before he 
could carry out his sentence, however, he was joined by 
five other v^arrior ants who were equally fierce and 
powei’ful. Between them they seized the luckless visitor 
and literally tore her to pieces. 

In this merciless manner, our citadel was constantly 
being guarded against our foes and even against harm- 
less visitors. It seemed to be an inexorable law of 
Antdom that all outsiders— even those belonging to the 
same species — were enemies who must be slain on sight. 
The ants had even gone to the extent of developing a 
special type of individual who was wonderfully adapted 
for its particular work as a policeman, soldier and 
guardian of the nest. 

Though this suggested an extra guarantee of safety 
to those within the ant city, it gave little comfort to me 
while I was still outside the nest. I realized suddenly 
that in order to get inside the formicary I would have 
to run the gauntlet of these six inexorable defenders. 
To be sure I seemed to have been accepted by all the 
other leaf-bearers I had encountered. On the other 
hand, I couldn’t forget the excitement that had been 
caused by my first meeting with one of the small ants. 
I had been accepted and welcomed, it was true, but I 
couldn’t help wondering if I would be equally so fortu- 
nate when the time came to face the gate keepers who 
were specially trained in detecting the presence of 
strangers. 

I realized, however, that I would have to do it some- 
time before night came, so I tried my best to screw up 
my courage for the crucial attempt. In this I was 
aided somewhat by a group of my companions who sud- 
denly quit carrying the leaf particles and started to file 
into the nest. This would make it easy, thought I. All 
I needed to do was to join the procession. Surely the 
guardians would not notice anything peculiar about me 
when I was with a gang of others who looked just 
like me. 

When I crawled through the opening, however, I soon 
found out that I would have to submit to inspection. 
Not a solitary one of my fellow workers got by the 
sentries without being challenged. It looked as if they 
were exchanging a pass-word of some sort, but in real- 
ity, the guardians were identifying each individual by 
the sense of smell. When it came my turn to be smelled 
I felt a bit shaky at the knees, as I noticed that I was 
being detained much longer than any of the others 
which had preceded me. I tried to push onward but 
the huge warrior grasped me gently with her mandibles, 
holding me firmly without hurting me. Meanwhile it 
was waving its antennae excitedly and two of the other 
soldier ants came running to see what was going on. 
They, too, inspected me in a way that suggested a 
suspicious uncertainty. 

I realized that my position was a very critical one. 
Though their attitude was not exactly hostile, neither 
was it friendly. Had one of them taken a notion that 
I was an imposter, she would undoubtedly have attacked 
me without mercy and I would have suffered the same 




246 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



fate as the hapless ant I had seen torn to pieces a few 
moments before. 

With the small portion of human brain which I had 
inside my head, I tried to figure out some way to help 
myself. Suddenly an idea came to me. Quick as a flash, 
I regurgitated a droplet of honej' from my crop and 
offered it to the nearest soldier. Apparently she was 
amenable to bribery, for she swallowed it greedily. In 
like manner, I paid my toll of “sugar” to the five other 
policemen and was allowed to pass unmolested. 

Running along the tunnel for a short distance, I came 
to a side passageway terminating in a large vaulted 
cavern. Here I found a large number of the smallest 
sized ants. They were busily engaged in mascerating 
the leaf particles which they carried in from outside. 

Perhaps you wonder how I was able to distinguish 
what the other ants were doing in the darkness of that 
subterranean chamber. I fully expected that I would 
be able to see in the dark, as some animals are supposed 
to do, but such was not the case. Instead I seemed to 
be guided almost entirely by my sense of smell. This 
was the most remarkable thing I noticed during my 
first day among the ants. Because my sense impressions 
have no parallel in human experience, they are very dif- 
ficult to describe. 

The only way I could explain it to myself was by 
analogy. It seemed as if I could perceive a series of 
clearly defined images, but instead of being made up of 
patches of light and color, these mind pictures were com- 
posed entirely of odors. With the aid of my organs of 
smell, which were located in the tips of my antennae, I 
was able to obtain what seemed to be very accurate 
“scent images” of all my surroundings, including the 
underground caverns, my fellow workers and the other 
occupants of the nest. 

Not only was I able to smell out the presence of the 
things around me, but I was also forming dependable 
conclusions regarding their size, shape, and distance 
away from me. In the case of moving objects, I could 
easily tell how fast they were traveling and in what 
direction. Thanks to this remarkable ant faculty, I 
was able to learn of many things which otherwise would 
have escaped my observation. 

O NE thing I observed is that there is just as much 
difference between individual ants as there is 
between different men. Due to the inability of the or- 
dinary man to put himself in the place of an ant, we 
humans are prone to believe that all ants look exactly 
alike and behave exactly alike. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. In my lit- 
tle colony of workers I found all sorts of types. There 
were no two which even remotely resembled each other 
in physiognomy. Conspicuous differences were also 
noticeable in their characters. There were ant flappers 
and ant prudes; there were egotistic ants and ants with 
inferiority complexes; there were intelligent ants and 
dumb ants, kind ants and cruel ants, brave ones and 
cowardly ones, generous ones and stingy ones, indus- 
trious ones and lazy ones. 

The last named class were not at all numerous, to be 
sure. Most of the ants I met deserved the reputation 
which all ants have received for being hard workers. 
Nevertheless, there were a few slackers, even in my 
busy colony. 

I shall never forget one of these shirkers. I called 
her “Lazy Mary.” She used to hang around the nest 
all day long. When she got hungry she would approach 
one of the workers, coaxing with her antennae and beg- 
ging for food. In this panhandling she was very suc- 
cessful. If the other ant had anything in her crop, she 
would invariably regurgitate a droplet and give it to 
Mary. Most of the ants were too busy themselves to 



notice that the little beggar wasn’t doing any work. 
Once she came to me, soliciting food. I gave her a drop 
of honey from my crop, at the same time suggesting to 
her, by the motions of my antennae, that she could find 
food for herself if she would go and hunt for it. 

She made a hateful face at me, sticking out her 
tongue and wiggling her gaster as if to say, “You mind 
your own business.” Nevertheless she didn’t ask me 
for any more honey after that. 

Lazy Mary wasn’t the only parasite in our nest, how- 
ever. Much to my surprise I learned that our home was 
occupied by insects of other species who did not work 
themselves yet lived comfortably on food contributed 
by the good natured worker ants. Some of these “Hobo 
Bugs,” as I dubbed them, were about the same size as 
the ants but were quite different in structure. Their 
bodies were shaped like tiny carrots, with the tops 
rounded off. They had six legs apiece and their tails 
were divided into three pointed segments. 

The first time I saw one of these tramps obtain some 
food I found it very amusing. As frequently happens, 
two worker ants met and proceeded to go through the 
formalities of regurgitation. Just as the droplet of 
food appeared on the tongue of one of them. Mister 
Hobo darted from his hiding place, sneaked under the 
heads of the ants and snatched the morsel right from 
under their noses. Strange to say, the ants paid no 
attention to the little sneak. With the idea of scaring 
it rather than trying to hurt it, I dashed after the hobo 
and made a grab for him with my mandibles. I found, 
however, that his tapering body was covered with hard, 
glossy scales and he seemed to have no difficulty in 
slipping out of my grasp and scampering away. 

Though the hoboes and the loafers were a bit annoy- 
ing, the workers didn’t seem to mind them. The ants 
had become resigned to the idea of tolerating the para- 
sites. Fortunately we seemed to have plenty of food 
to give away. 

It was some time before I found out where this 
abundant supply of food came from. 

After I had wasted a few moments in watching the 
Hobo Bugs, I returned to my job of chopping up the 
leaf particles. The small “Home-Bodies” had already 
finished mascerating a considerable amount of the leaf 
substance, which they had rolled into tiny balls and had 
spread out neatly in a smooth, flat bed. 

I saw several of them quit and run further into the 
nest. To find out what they were going to do, I fol- 
lowed them to another large chamber. Here there was 
a bed quite similar to the one I had just left, except 
that it was covered with filaments of a sort of fungus 
growth resembling mushrooms. The ants nipped off 
some particles of this vegetable formation and carried 
them back to the chamber where the bed of leaf com- 
post had just been prepared. Dropping the particles 
of fungus on the newly formed bed, they covered them 
over carefully with the leaf pellets. 

Then for the first time the truth dawned on me ! 

We were really Farmer Ants, or Mushroom Growers. 
All this gathering of leaf particles and the subsequent 
preparation of the beds had been designed solely for one 
purpose — to raise food for the colony in undei’ground 
fungus gardens. 

I verified this later when I ate some of the mush- 
rooms and found them very pleasant to the taste. 

Now that we had prepared our seed bed and had 
planted our crop there would be nothing to do but wait 
for the harvest, thought I. But I soon found out that 
there was plenty of work to do in the nest besides 
gardening. 

Taking care of the brood was the biggest job of all. 
It seemed as if this important task occupied the time of 
thousands of ants almost constantly. While there were 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



247 



some ants who specialized in the nursing work and did 
little else, there were many times when all the rest of 
us helped them with their manifold duties. 

I have seen a lot of human mothers who were con- 
stantly fussing with their children, but none of them 
showed anywhere near as much solicitude for their 
charges as the ants did for their baby sisters. In our 
nurseries there were four different kinds of infants, the 
eggs, the larvae, the pupae, and the imagal instars or 
immature antlets. 

My sojourn in the Mushroom Growers’ home soon 
corrected certain erroneous ideas I had previously had 
regarding ants’ offspring. I recalled one mistake I had 
made when I was a boy. While watching a colony of 
ants move to a new nest, I noticed that some of them 
were carrying egg-shaped white objects which were 
quite large, nearly as big as the ants themselves. I 
immediately assumed that these objects were eggs, but 
my experience as an ant taught me that they were 
really cocoons enclosing the nymphs or pupae. 

Ant eggs are small, almost microscopic in size. The 
ones I have seen by daylight were pale yellow in color. 
They were surrounded by a sticky fluid which held them 
together in clusters like bunches of grapes. As soon as 
these eggs were laid they were removed by the queen’s 
maids of honor and were carefully deposited on the beds 
of growing mushrooms. 

On the day I arrived I saw several of the eggs hatch 
out. The creatures which emerged from them were 
soft, legless, translucent grubs. An ant larva is shaped 
like a crook-necked squash or gourd, divided into 
clearly marked segments and terminating in a small but 
well defined head. I counted the ridges in one of these 
tiny grubs and found that there were exactly thirteen 
of them. The larvae were completely covered with fine 
hairs which kept them warm and prevented their bodies 
from coming in close contact with the ground or with 
other objects. 

Apparently these grubs were equipped with organs 
for spinning silk. After they had developed to a cer- 
tain point, they surrounded themselves with snow-white 
cocoons. Then they were buried in the earth by the 
nurses. Thus protected they went through the chrysalis 
or pupal stage of their development. When the right 
time arrived, the mature ants dug them up and by care- 
fully biting holes in the cocoons helped them get out of 
their prisons. 

The little ones that crawled out of the cocoons were 
shaped like grown ants, but differed from them ma- 
terially. A few had wings but most of them were wing- 
less. They had soft bodies and for this reason had to 
stay inside the nest until their protective armors of 
chitin had become hard. 

O UR formicary was a large one and was divided into 
innumerable chambers and passage-ways. Most of 
the tirhe the eggs were stored in the upper stories where 
they would get the benefit of the sun’s warmth. The 
floors below them were reserved for the larvae. Still 
further down were the chambers in which the cocoons 
lay buried. 

The eggs, the larvae and the nymphs all had to be 
cared for constantly. The nurses were forever licking 
them, cleansing them, turning them over and arranging 
them in the order of size. Like other infants, the larvae 
were always hungry. They were fed by the living 
nursing bottles, who chewed the mushroom growth, de- 
posited the juices in their crops and then regurgitated 
the liquid for the benefit of the baby ants. 

In the middle of the day the upper chambers, which 
were exposed to the powerful heat of the California sun, 
became so warm that the eggs were in danger of being 
baked. But the efficient nurses were right on the job. 



They set to work diligently, picking up the clusters of 
eggs in their mandibles and carrying them to another 
large chamber at a lower level where the temperature 
was more salubrious. Late in the afternoon, however, 
the nest cooled off and all the eggs had to be brought 
back again to their original resting place. 

Toward evening of the first day I had the honor of 
being pi’esented to the queen mother of our colony. The 
way this came about was extremely significant. I was 
crawling along one of the passageways inside the nest 
when I encountered an ant which I recognized instantly 
as the one which had first greeted me. She seemed to 
remember me, too, probably because of the unusual food 
I had given her. This time she wasted no time in 
examining me, but immediately assumed a position fac- 
ing me and began to stroke my head with her antennae. 
Followed then the pleasant sensation, the regurgitation 
of the droplet of my crop and the sisterly kiss. 

This time, my friend became very much excited. She 
v,?ould scamper away for a short distance and then stop, 
waving her antennae at me. Then she would come run- 
ning back and would nudge me with her head. It was 
perfectly clear to me that she wanted me to accompany 
her into one of the tunnels leading away from the main 
passageway, and I was stubborn enough to pretend 1 
didn’t know what she wanted me for. 

I could almost hear her say in a coaxing manner,, 
“Come along with me. Sister, please do.” But I didn’t 
budge. Her demeanor changed slightly. She didn’t 
exactly seem exasperated, though I could plainly under- 
stand that she pitied me for my seeming stupidity. 

“You certainly are a dumb one,” was the message she 
transmitted to me, “but you’ve just got to come along 
with me, so I suppose I shall have to carry you.” 

Though she was much smaller than I, she didn’t 
have the slightest trouble in doing this. With the ut- 
most care and gentleness she seized me with her man- 
dibles, lifted me off the ground and hurried through the 
tunnel at a brisk trot. Soon she entered a small cham- 
ber and deposited me on the floor. It took but a few 
good sniffs to tell me that I was now in the holy-of- 
holies — the royal chamber of the queen. 

There she lay in regal splendor, surrounded by ten or 
twelve of her most trusted retainers. She was fully 
four times as large as any of the rest of us and the 
mature nurses reminded me of baby kittens as they 
climbed over their huge parent. Four of them were 
giving her a bath, licking her thoroughly with their 
soft spongy tongues. Cleanliness was the first law of 
the throne room, just as it was everywhere else in 
Antdom. 

Our mother had just laid a batch of eggs which were 
immediately removed by some of the nurses, who car- 
ried them off in the direction of the mushroom gardens. 

Though I hesitated about coming close to her august 
majesty my companion pushed and nudged me until I 
was face to face with the queen herself. In the most 
friendly manner she extended her mandibles and began 
to stroke me affectionately. I regurgitated an unusually 
large droplet of honey for her and she kissed me as she 
swallowed it. 

Apparently she found this unusual tid-bit very pleas- 
ant after her steady diet of mushroom juice, for she 
would not let me go, but continued to caress me until my 
crop was almost empty. It is impossible for me to 
describe what a source of pleasure this experience was 
to me. My greatest regret was that I would not be able 
to replenish the supply of honey in my social flagon so 
that I could bring more enjoyment to my queen. 

Just as we ants kept cleansing our queen and her 
children with meticulous care, we also were everlast- 
ingly fastidious about our own personal cleanliness. 
Whenever we could spare a moment from our other 




248 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



duties we set to work scraping, brushing and licking 
our own bodies. In this work, we always assisted each 
other to clean the parts that were hard to reach. 
Though we had neither soap, water, brushes nor combs 
we performed these tasks with maiwelous efficiency. As 
a matter of fact, we carried all the necessary tools and 
materials in our own bodies. We were all equipped with 
stiff-bristled brushes in the form of spurs attached to 
our forelegs. Our tongues constituted the best sponges 
we could ask for. I have reason to believe that our 
saliva was not only a powerful cleansing I’eagent but 
was also oily and germicidal. In no other way can I 
account for our absolute immunity against the molds 
and bacteria which must have abounded in our subter- 
ranean caverns. 

Altogether that first day I spent among my little 
insect friends was a very busy one and an extremely 
happy one. Perhaps my imperfect descriptions of my 
activities have given the impression that they were 
rather menial and humdrum in character. Nothing 
could be further from the truth. To be sure, I had done 
nothing but perform tasks that men regard as common- 
place. In one day I had been a farmer, a nurse, a por- 
ter, a caterer and a bath attendant. But everything I 
did was like a big adventure. Never in my life a.s a 
human being have I gone through a day that was more 
fraught with interest, excitement and wholesome joy. 

And though I had expected nothing but the most 
peaceful experiences in that city of honest farmers, I 
was to witness that very night the most horrible scenes 
of criminal violence, of dastardly villainy and of deadly 
peril to myself and my friends. 

CHAPTER VII 

The Gangsters of Antdom 

I HAVE already described two types of parasites who 
infested our ant city, namely, the loafers of our 
own species and the alien “Hoboes” who sneaked 
their sustenance from their good-natured hosts. Aside 
from the fact that they took toll from the common food 
supply without contributing anything by their own 
efforts, these two varieties of pests were harmless. 

But that night I learned that the very walls of our 
homes were infested by thousands of other parasites 
who were so utterly vicious and unprincipled that they 
could easily qualify as the most perfidious scoundrels of 
Antdom. Strange to say, these unspeakable villains 
were also ants. They illustrated the well-known truth 
that the most dangerous enemies of ants are other ants 
— just as the worst enemies of men are other men. 

I learned later that myrmecologists — those scientists 
who specialize in the study of ants — call these little 
criminals “Thieving Ants.” I am sure that these same 
scientists would have used a much stronger term to 
designate a band of men who behaved in a similar man- 
ner. Suppose you try to put yourself in the position of 
the ants who owned this dwelling place. Imagine that 
the walls of your house are honeycombed with tunnels 
inhabited by a ferocious band of men who are so tiny 
that you cannot get at them without destroying your 
own home. 

These Wall-Dwellers never come out when the family 
is up and stirring; but in the dead of night, when 
everything is quiet, they steal out of their hiding places 
in large numbers. If your wife or your children’s 
nurse-maid happens to get in their way they attack her 
viciously, stabbing her to death with poisoned daggers. 
Then they rush to the room where your babies are sleep- 
ing, drag them from their beds, tear them to pieces and 
devour them. 

That’s exactly what those so-called “Thieving Ants” 



did in the home of the peaceful, kind-hearted Leaf 
Bearing ants. 

With the aid of my newly discovered faculty for con- 
structing “smell images,” I witnessed a raid made by a 
band of these nefarious baby-killers. Pouring out of a 
tiny crevasse in the wall of a passageway they rushed 
for the room where the larvae were kept. On the way 
they passed several of the larger ants who didn’t seem 
to notice the presence of the marauders — probably be- 
cause they w'ere so small and smelled exactly like the 
rightful owners of the formicary. I followed them at a 
distance and saw them enter the nursery. There were 
two nurses on guard, but the midget assassins attacked 
them without hesitation. It was like a bunch of rats 
attacking an elephant, but the odds seemed to be over- 
whelmingly in favor of the rats. They made free use 
of their poisoned stings, which were located at the ends 
of their gasters. Within a few seconds, the two brave 
defenders wei'e lying on the floor of the chambei’, writh- 
ing in agony. 

I was going to attack the murderers myself, but held 
off, excusing my cowardice with the thought that under 
circumstances like this, discretion is the better part of 
valor. I did the next best thing and ran for help. In 
some mysterious manner I managed to convey to the 
first ant I met that our young ones were in danger. 
Instantly she began to butt her head against the wall of 
the nest, producing a vibration that must have been per- 
ceptible for some distance. In response to her signal, 
hundreds of ants, including many of the enormous sol- 
diers, came running to our aid. 

When we reached the scene of the crime we found 
the two nurses dead. Each of the raiders had grabbed 
a larva and had tried to run off with it. We made short 
work of those which had lagged behind, but many of 
them succeeded in darting through the tiny openings 
of their nest which were so small that we larger ants 
could not follow them. 

I realized then that even among these hard-working, 
peace-loving farmers, the life of an ant was a constant 
battle. 

By the time the last of the assassins had disappeared 
I was so fagged out that I gladly joined a group of my 
companions who had crawled into a sleeping chamber 
and had lain down to rest. 

On the following morning our first duty was to 
straighten out the disorder which had been caused by 
the raid of the Gangster Ants. Thei-e were several dead 
bodies to dispose of. Those of the marauders were car- 
ried outside and were unceremoniously dumped at some 
distance from the nest. But we treated the remains of 
our friends with more care and reverence. I am not 
going to say definitely that the ants went through with 
a funeral ceremony. Let me just describe what hap- 
pened and you can form your own conclusions. 

Lying in the chamber were a few empty cocoon cases, 
which had recently been abandoned by their maturing 
tenants. Some of the ants cut slits in two of the co- 
coons and then carefully placed the bodies of the mar- 
tyred nurses inside these improvised caskets. Followed 
by a solemn procession they then carried the coffined 
bodies of their friends outside the nest and deposited 
them on a heap of refuse. Tenderly and sorrowfully, 
the ants covered the biers with particles of dirt. I 
could almost swear that I saw tears in the eyes of the 
mourners as they slowly filed back to the nest. 

In addition to acting as undertakers, we had to do a 
lot of houseeleaning. Every particle of refuse or use- 
less matter was picked up and carried out of the nest. 

Once, when I was on my way back to the nest after 
doing a bit of scavenger work, I came upon a remark- 
able sight. A solitary ant was tugging away at a^huge 
grasshopper leg, which apparently had become ampu- , 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



249 



tated during a struggle with some other creature. She 
was a small ant, but she made up in perseverence what 
she lacked in size. As she strained at the enormous ob- 
ject, she reminded me of a man trying to drag the body 
of a full-grown elephant for several miles through a 
dense forest. Considering the comparative size of her- 
self and her burden, that analogy seemed to fit the task 
she had selected. 

Despite the Herculean character of her job, she 
seemed to be making some progress, though it was, of 
course, very slow. She exerted herself terrifically as 
she grasped one end of the burden in her mandibles, 
braced her six legs and pulled the object toward her. 
Scores of other ants passed close by but none of them 
offered to help her. When I came near to her I dis- 
covered that she was the same ant which had first 
greeted me and had subsequently introduced me to the 
queen. Then and thei’e I dubbed her “Diana,” because 
of her hunting skill. 

I hastened to her and, taking a firm hold on the 
grasshopper leg, helped her to drag it along the ground. 
As soon as she perceived what I was doing, she let go 
of the burden and came to me, thanking me with 
caresses of her antennae and at the same time demand- 
ing a droplet of food from my crop. I gladly satisfied 
her hunger and after a short rest, w’e tackled the job 
again, dragging the choice provender right to the open- 
ing of the nest. 

H ere the huge gatekeepers rushed out to welcome 
us. After the customary greetings with the an- 
tennae and the inevitable I’egurgitations with which 
every important event was celebrated, the doorkeepers 
treated us with the greatest solicitude. While two of 
them relieved us of our burden, the others surrounded 
us, brushing the dust from our bodies, licking and 
caressing us with the tenderest care. Then they led us 
inside the nest to a special resting chamber which evi- 
dently was reserved for exhausted travelers. 

Since I had dragged the load but a short distance, I 
was not at all tired, but Diana must have been terribly 
fatigued by her strenuous labors. No sooner had the 
doorkeepers left us than she fell into a sound slumber. 
By way of experiment I touched her gently to see if 
she would awaken easily, but she did not stir. Then I 
gave her a rough nudge. Still she slept. Even when I 
rolled her body over and over, she didn’t seem to be at 
ali conscious of w'hat w-as going on but slumbered 
through it all. 

Since I did not feel like wasting any of my precious 
time in a mid-day siesta, I left the doi'mitory and 
went to take a look at the fungus garden which we had 
planted the day before. Knowing how fast mushrooms 
germinate, I expected to find some evidence of growth, 
but I was totally unprepared for the remarkable picture 
which my sense of smell brought to me. 

The bed of compost was completely covered with a 
tangled mass of fungus filaments. Swarming over them 
were scores of ants, frantically engaged in nibbling off 
the tips of the stalks, which seemed to grow faster than 
they could be pruned. In some parts of the bed, tiny 
capsules had already begun to form. (I learned later 
that these particular cryptogams are called Rhozites 
Gonglylophora and that the capsules are knowm as 
“Kohlrabis.”) 

Observing that my nestmates were having a hard job 
keeping pace with the rapid growth of the mushrooms, 
I pitched in and helped as well as I could. It was an 
exciting battle. There were several times when it 
looked as if the vegetables were going to win. They 
were growing so fast that they almost filled the entire 
chamber and we were all in danger of being trapped 
and smothered. Just when it looked as if we would 



have to give up and run for our lives, a band of rein- 
forcements arrived on the scene and we got the fungus 
garden under control. 

Just how long I remained in the nest of Mushroom 
Growers I had no idea at the time. So engrossed had I 
become in my new life that I almost forgot that I had 
ever been anything else but an ant. The thought of sig- 
nalling to Doctor De Villa and of returning to my 
human body did not enter my mind. I made no attempt 
to keep track of the time, although I was cognizant of 
the fact that several nights had passed. 

Then one day I became the victim of a frightful acci- 
dent. Strange to say, it was brought on by the very 
thing that was designed to rescue me. I happened to 
be inside the nest, working in one of the side passage- 
ways. Suddenly the ground began to tremble with 
terrific force. To me it seemed a lot worse than a real 
earthquake, and I ought to know what I am talking 
about because I was in the big ’quake at Santa Barbara, 
when many of the largest business buildings were 
totally destroyed. 

The force of the tremblor threw me over on my side 
and, just as I fell, a section of the roof came tumbling 
down on top of me. Several of the other ants were 
partly buried by falling dirt, but most of them managed 
to dig themselves out. In vain I tried to extricate 
myself. If the material on top of me had been all loose 
earth I could easily have done this, but it happened that 
a pebble, at least three times as large as my body was 
resting on top of the heap. I was not in pain, but the 
weight of the miniature boulder was so great that I 
couldn’t move my legs. I perceived another ant coming 
toward me and my hope of rescue seemed certain. 
When I recognized the odor of the new arrival, I was 
not nearly so optimistic. 

It was Lazy Mary. Instead of starting to dig me 
out, she crawled on top of the pebble, adding her weight 
to the heavy load already pressing down on me. SKe 
thrust her head close to mine, looking at me dumbly as 
if she could not understand why I was there. I man- 
aged to touch her head with my antennae. As elo- 
quently as possible, I asked her to help me. “Come on, 
Mary,” I tried to say. “Be a good sport and get me out 
of this mess, will you, old girl?” 

She seemed to understand my predicament all right, 
but still she made no attempt to extricate me. Instead 
she stood above me, looking down at me in the most in- 
solent manner. I felt sure that she was saying some- 
thing like this: “So it is you, is it? You’re the one that 
tried to make me work. Now you are in a fine fix, aren’t 
you? Serves you right. That’s what you get for butt- 
ing into other folks’ business. Think I’m going to 
bother about helping you? Nothing doing, old kid.” 

In the meantime, pandemonium reigned in the nest. 
For a while the workers rushed about in panic-stricken 
excitement. Then, in some mysterious way a concerted 
plan was transmitted to them. They began to move in 
a systematic, orderly manner. I noticed that most of 
them were cari-ying eggs or larvae in their mandibles 
and all of them were moving toward the exit. Then the 
significance of their actions dawned on me. Because of 
the disturbance, the order had gone out to move the 
nest. Within a short time our formicary would be 
deserted, and I would be left to my fate. 

In vain I tried to attract the attention of some of the 
other workers. They were all so engrossed with their 
tasks, so excited in the general exodus, that they had no 
time for me. Finally Lazy Mary, dumb as she seemed 
to be, caught the fever. She climbed down from the 
boulder, walked up to an unburdened ant and calmly 
attached herself to the under side of the other’s head. 
In this way she was carried bodily out of the nest. She 
was even too lazy to walk to her new home ! 




250 



i^MAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



With Lazy Mary’s departure all hope abandoned me. 
Useless as she turned out to be, her sisterly companion- 
ship had given me some comfort, since there was at 
least a remote chance that I could coax her to liberate 
me. But with her gone and all the other ants franti- 
cally absorbed in the engrossing job of vacating the 
nest, there was no possibility that I would be rescued. 

At that moment the horrible events which I had 
witnessed that first night after my arrival popped into 
my mind. I suddenly recalled that the walls around me 
were swarming with murderous criminals who were 
only waiting for nightfall to come swarming out and 
to torture me with their poisoned stings. It was not 
a very pleasant fate to look forward to, I can assure 
you of that. 

I began to wonder how long Doctor De Villa would 
wait for me. If he had been watching he must have 
noticed the general exodus. How would he interpret 
my failure to obey his summons? Would he guess that 
I was confined in the formicary and start digging 
for me? If so, what chance was there he would reach 
my cavern, or that he would be able to see my tiny 
head sticking out from a mound of earth? 

Thus I worried as my wonderful sense of smell told 
me that the last kad departed carrying the last baby 
with it and leaving me alone in the deserted nest. I 
found out, however, that I was not altogether alone. 
From some distant passageway I detected a powerful 
aroma which told me that one of the Ant Hoboes was 
still in the nest. Then another odor came to my nostrils 
— a familiar one and a very welcome one. 

It was Diana — brave, dutiful Diana — who had noticed 
the absence of one of our worthless guests and, like the 
good Christian she was, had returned to the nest for it. 
Soon I smelled her approaching me. She was carrying 
the Hobo in her mandibles. I struggled with all my 
might, beating the air with my antennae and striving 
to attract her attention. I had no way of making any 
sound and even if I had it would have done no good, 
since we ants were all deaf. Fortunately, however, 
Diana noticed that my antennae were moving and she 
came over to investigate. When she discovered my 
predicament, she set down the bug and tried to pull the 
pebble away from my body. 

Her efforts would have done credit to Samson him- 
self, but the pebble was too much for her. She didn’t 
give up, however, but began to dig away the dirt under 
one side of the tiny stone. When she had undermined it, 
she scampered to the other side and pushed against it 
with her head. After several mighty heaves, she man- 
aged to roll the pebble into the hollow which she had 
excavated with her mandibles. After that it was the 
work of an instant for me to draw myself out of the 
pile of loose dirt. 

Diana did not wait for me to thank her. Picking up 
her living burden, she trotted toward the opening of 
the nest. I lost no time in following her. When I was 
outside I picked out an open spot that was in bright 
sunlight and there I waited in anxious expectation. 

Soon I was relieved to feel something grasp hold of 
me. I knew at once that it was Doctor De Villa’s 
tweezers; On the journey back to the laboratory, I kept 
repeating over to myself, “Thank God, I’m safe ! Thank 
God I’m safe!” 

CHAPTER VIII 

Among the Slave Makers 

T he next thing I remember I was lying on my side 
in my bed at De Villa’s apartment. My head was 
swathed in bandages. I started to turn over, but 
the Doctor’s voice arrested me. 

“Careful. Better not move for a while yet. I just 



put a temporary covering over the incision in your 
head. It is likely to be somewhat tender.” 

“Temporary covering?” I echoed. “Why don’t you 
put zippers on my bean and be done with it?” 

De Villa chuckled, “I can see you are yourself again. 
Your sense of humor is still with you. How do you 
feel, anyway?” 

“Sick,” I told him. “Sick at my stomach.” 

' “That’s due to the ether. You’ll soon get over it. 
How about your head? Does that feel all right?” 
“Sure! My head is 0. K. Throbs a little. Other- 
wise it feels like the same old bean.” 

“Thank God !” De Villa exclaimed fervently. “Thank 
God our experiment is a success.” 

“Amen!” I rejoined in a voice which was trembling 
with reverence. Considering my attitude toward re- 
ligion I was surprised at my own reaction — even more 
so when I remembered how I had thought first of God 
when I knew my life had been saved. 

“I’m going to ask you to sleep now,” the Doctor or- 
dered me. “I’m awfully anxious to hear about your ex- 
periences, but for the sake of your health we had better 
put that off until you’ve had a good rest.” 

This suggestion was welcome enough because I was 
very drowsy. I closed my eyes and in a moment was 
fast asleep. 

On awakening I found De Villa seated at my bedside. 
He gave me a tumbler of milk with a glass tube to 
drink it with. 

“Do you feel like talking now?” he wanted to know. 
“You bet!” I assured him. “What do you want me to 
say?” 

“Whatever you feel like saying. Tell me what hap^ 
pened — in your own way.” 

I didn’t need a second invitation. I told him about 
growing mushrooms inside the nest. I described the 
ant gangsters and the queen ant to him. I related my 
experiences with Lazy Mary and Diana. 

He had a note book in front of him and a pencil in 
his hand but he made no use of them. I inferred that 
he already knew all about these things which seemed 
so wonderful to me. With his customary politeness he 
listened to me but I could see that he wasn’t interested. 
He asked me a question: 

“The inside of the nest was dark, of course?” 

“Sure. Except in the uppermost chambers it was as 
dark as pitch.” 

“Then how could you see all these things you have 
described to me?” 

“I didn’t see them, I smelled them?” 

“What! You smelled them?” 

“Sure! When I was below decks, smelling was the 
onliest thing. I did nothing else but!” Then I launched 
forth into a description of “smell images.” This time, 
the doctor was all attention. He took copious notes, 
asking me question after question and insisting on the 
most minute account of my sense impressions when I 
perceived what I called a “smell image.” 

“Now you’ve made a real contribution to science!” he 
exclaimed. “Students of ant behavior have suspected 
the existence of a faculty such as you describe but it 
was, of course, impossible to prove it except by looking 
at things from the ant’s consciousness, as you did.” 
Another matter in which he was intensely interested 
was the method whereby the ants communicated with 
each other. Other than assuring him that sounds were 
not used at all and that nevertheless the insects were 
able to convey their ideas to each other as clearly as 
human beings do with spoken words, I was not able to 
enlighten him. 

“Perhaps if you make a special study of the ant 
language you will be able to explain it more clearly next 
time,” the doctor suggested. 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



251 



“Next time?” I exclaimed. “What do you mean by 
next time? Isn’t this the end of our experiment?” 

“That depends entirely on you,” he said. “You have 
performed a wonderful service and if you feel like quit- 
ting now, that is your privilege. I was hoping, though, 
that you would want to go back and learn about some 
of the other species of ants.” 

“But if you wanted me to do that, why did you bring 
me back to my human form? Why didn’t you just 
transfer my ant body into the other colony.” 

“If I had done that you would have been torn to 
pieces. Ants resent the presence of strangers. You 
yourself saw an example of that rule when the gate- 
keepers killed the visitor. In order to permit you to 
enter a hew formicary unmolested I’ll have to transfer 
your consciousness to the brain of an ant belonging to 
that particular community. I was hoping, now that 
you’ve experienced the more peaceful phases of ant 
life, you would be ready for the exciting adventures.” 
“That’s right,” I admitted. “You promised me ad- 
venture and most of my time was spent planting mush- 
rooms and nursing ant babies.” 

“Then how would you like to join a slave-making 
expedition?” 

“Sounds intriguing. But suppose I happened to be 
captured and had to become a slave myself?” 

“There would be no danger of that. Mature ants 
rarely, if ever, are taken as slaves. The slave makers 
steal eggs and larvae from another colony and hatch 
them out in their own nest. On the other hand, the ants 
whose nests are raided usually put up a battle, so there 
is sure to be plenty of excitement and a certain amount 
of risk. Does that appeal to you?” 

“Sure does ! I don’t mind being an ant at all. It’s a 
very interesting life. Something doing every minute. 
No chance to get bored. It isn’t exactly what I’d pick 
for a regular career, of course, but as a stop-gap, I 
rather enjoy it.” 

“Then you are willing for me to transplant your con- 
sciousness to the body of a slave-making ant?” 

“Sure! But why ask me about it? You could easily 
have made the transfer while I was under the ether,* 
and I wouldn’t have known the difference until I found 
myself in a new ant home.” 

“I didn’t want to do that until I had first made sure 
that I could restore you to your human form. You have 
been so helpful to me that I just couldn’t force you to 
go back again. I’m glad, though, that you are game 
enough to carry on. It means that the value of our 
work will be at least doubled.” 

“But how can you be so sure that the ants will per- 
form for us. They don’t hunt slaves every day do they? 

I don’t see how that would be possible. 

“Of course not. They would soon run out of victims. 
Fortunately, however, I have the stage all set for a 
raid. For several weeks I have kept two hostile colonies 
in my garden. They are only a few yards apart, but are 
separated from each other by a ditch full of water. All 
I have to do is drain the ditch. It won’t take long after 
that for the slave makers or “Amazons,” as they are 
sometimes called, to discover the presence of their prey. 
Then there is sure to be a raid and a battle.” 

“And is your idea to put me on the attacking or the 
defending side?” 

“On the attacking side of course. A fight like that 
is always very uneven. If you were in the defending 
ranks you would be almost sure to get beaten and you’d 
stand a good chance of being slain.” 

“Don’t any of the slave makers ever get licked or 
killed?” 

“Oh, yes, indeed. But they are larger than their 
adversaries and are built for fighting. This gives them 
a big advantage.” 



“But that doesn’t sound very sporting to me. I don’t 
like the idea of having to fight against set-ups like 
that.” 

“You don’t need to do any personal fighting unless 
you want to. I suggest that you go along as a sort of 
ant war correspondent. You’ll have all the risks, the 
excitement and the glory, but you won’t need to fear 
that you are doing anything unfair or unsportsman- 
like.” 

“0. K. !” said I. “I’ll be the Floyd Gibbons of Ant- 
dom ! But this time I hope you’ll use some other method 
of paging me. That riveting machine stunt wasn’t so 
hot, you know. It came near burying me alive,” and I 
told him about my narrow escape when I got caught in 
the landslide and came near being left alone in the 
deserted nest. 

“I suspected as much,” he told me. “When you failed 
to appear immediately after I signaled I was afraid 
something had happened to you. You have no idea how 
relieved I was when you finally made your appearance.” 

“Maybe you think I wasn’t relieved, too, when I 
felt you lift me up,” I exclaimed. 

“I’m sorry I caused you all that trouble. It won’t 
happen again, of course. This time I won’t try to sum- 
mon you. I’ll leave it to you to decide when you want 
to come back.” 

“But how am I going to let you know?” 

“I’ll keep closer watch this time. In order that I can 
be sure everything is all right with you, I am going to 
ask you to report to me at least once each day. This 
you can do by separating from the rest of the ants and 
standing in an open place by yourself. I’ll be looking 
for you and I’ll indicate my presence to you by picking 
you up and setting you down again. If you run away 
it will mean that you are not ready to return ; but if 
you stand still after I set you down, I shall take it as an 
indication that you want me to restore you to your 
human body. Will that be satisfactory?” 

“Sounds Jake to me. Let’s go!” 

D octor DE villa had certainly laid his plans 
with consummate knowledge and skill. When I 
found myself inside the nest of Amazons I soon became 
conscious that something momentous was going to hap- 
pen. My companions were dashing excitedly about the 
nest. Sometimes two or three would gather with their 
heads together, like football players in a huddle and 
would tap each other’s heads vehemently with their 
antennae. Evidently they were discussing the strategy 
for the impending raid. From time to time, individual 
ants would come scampering into the nest from outside 
and would run from group to group, stopping just long 
enough for an exchange of signals with each group. 

I surmised that they were scouts, who had been sent 
out to reconnoiter and who had returned to the nest to 
report what they had discovered. 

After a great deal of this scouting and conferring, 
we formed in a regular column and emerged from the 
nest. When we came near the enemy’s nest we separ- 
ated into small groups, spreading out stealthily until 
we had encircled the doomed formicary. Apparently 
our adversaries had been warned of our approach, for 
they were already organized to resist us. The defenders 
were arranged in a circle, completely surrounding the 
nest. 

My Amazon companions merely tried to break 
through the ring. They did not attack the opposing in- 
sects, but seemed intent on getting inside the other 
nest as quickly as possible. The smaller ants, however, 
were remarkably brave and aggressive. Without hesi- 
tation they hurled themselves at the invaders, in spite 
of the fact that their adversaries were nearly double 
their size. 




252 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



There was no doubt in my mind that the strategy of 
the defenders had been planned in advance. While the 
shock troops in the front line did their best to hold 
back the enemy, hundreds of others came rushing out 
of the nest, carrying in their mandibles the eggs and 
cocoons. They scampered about, trying to get away to 
a place of safety with their precious charges. Most of 
these ants were pursued and overtaken by the Amazons. 
Invariably they fought to the death before they would 
relinquish their burdens. Several of them managed to 
elude their enemies and ran off to places of safety. I 
followed one of these and saw her crawl under a rock, 
dragging a larva with her. 

Returning to the battle field, I found the ground 
strewn with dead and dying ants. Most of them were 
the small defenders, but I counted over a score of dead 
Amazons. My companions were streaming into the 
formicary, returning with eggs and larvae which they 
had found within. 

I lingered behind to see what would happen at the 
looted nest. It wasn't long before the survivors began 
to straggle in. A few of them were still carrying eggs, 
but most of them had empty mandibles. They went 
back into the formicary and philosophically resumed the 
duties which had been interrupted by the raid. 

Hurrying back to my own nest, I arrived there just 
in time to witness the tail end of the reception staged 
for the victorious warriors. Our army of raiders had 
constituted only a portion of our colony, the remainder 
having stayed behind in the formicary. They greeted 
the successful fighters enthusiastically, stroking them 
with their antenna and praising them highly in the ant 
language. 

I had the foresight to pretend I was wounded. Limp- 
ing along the outskirts of the excited crowd, I tried to 
make myself as inconspicuous as possible. I didn’t get 
away with the ruse, however. Several of my nest mates 
noticed me as I came in and they observed that I was 
carrying neither egg nor cocoon. They surrounded me 
and gave me the razz as plainly and as thoroughly as 
a bunch of fight fans jeering at a yellow boxer. They 
paid no attention to my limp. Apparently an injured 
veteran received no sympathy in the tribe of the Ama- 
zons. I was glad to escape from my tormentors by 
mingling with the crowds surrounding the successful 
slave-makers. 

When the excitement died down most of the ants 
emerged from the nest and arranged themselves in the 
form of a large ring. I wondered if this was the signal 
for another battle, but I soon learned that a holiday had 
been declared to celebrate the victory. 

Near one end of the circle about a dozen ants lined 
up. Each one held between its mandibles a tiny round 
pebble about the size of an ant’s head. At a given sig- 
nal they dropped their pebbles and began to roll them 
along the ground, pushing them with their forelegs. 

I soon realized that this was an organized game. The 
idea of it was to roll the pebble along the ground as 
rapidly as possible. Whichever ant succeeded in getting 
his pebble over to the further end of the field first we de- 
clared the winner. It was quite apparent that this was 
no spontaneous, haphazard test of skill, because the en- 
tii’e proceedings were conducted in accordance with a 
well defined and universally recognized system of rules. 

Once, when a contesting ant had fallen some distance 
behind the others, it picked up its pebble in its mandi- 
bles and started to run with it. These unfair tactics 
brought it ahead of all the others, but when it dropped 
the pebble and started to roll it in the proper way with 
its forelegs, two of the spectators, who evidently were 
the referees, rushed out, grabbed hold of her and 
dragged her bodily off the field. Another ant which 
pushed the pebble with her head instead of rolling it 



along with her forelegs was treated in a similar way. 

There were several of these pebble rolling contests, 
after which the field was cleared and two large ants 
took their place in the center of the arena. Instantly 
they started to scuffle with each other. I thought at 
first I was going to witness a duel to the death, but it 
soon became apparent that the ants were very careful 
not to inflict any dangerous injuries on each other. 
They were like two wrestlers. They pushed and tugged 
at each other’s bodies. Though they made free use of 
their wicked mandibles for holding and shoving, they 
did not bite with them. 

The ring seemed to be divided into two semi-circles 
by an imaginary diameter. Each ant tried to pull her 
opponent to her side of the ring. When their strug- 
gles had brought them in contact with the spectators, 
the fight was over. The victor would then strut out to 
the center of the ring and would rear up on her hind 
legs, turning around in all directions as if she W'as chal- 
lenging the world. 

There were plenty of the Amazons who were eager 
to pick up the gauntlet. Sometimes three or four would 
rush out at the same time. The one that got hold of the 
challenger first became the contender for the champion- 
ship and the others would immediately fall back. 

One of the w'restlers seemed to be a big favorite and 
deservedly so, for she licked nine aspirants to her cro%vn 
in rapid succession. Because of her fondness for grasp- 
ing the heads of her opponents with her mandibles, I 
dubbed her “Miss Strangler Lewis.” 

It wasn’t long before the ranks of would-be champions 
had been exhausted. Miss Lewis Avas so palpably good 
that no one seemed anxious to dispute her superiority. 
Then she took to strutting around the ring, touching 
one ant after another with her antennae and hurling 
insect insults at all of them. 

When she came close to me, I recognized her as one 
of the group which had razzed me because I had re- 
turned to the nest without any booty. She seemed to 
know me, too. 

It is difficult for me to explain just how she conveyed 
her meaning to me. While she was “conversing” with 
me her antennae were touching my head and she may 
have tapped off her message by means of an ant Morse 
code. But I am not sure of this. For all I know, it 
might have been a case of mental telepathy. Of one 
thing I am certain, however. I was able to understand 
her just as clearly as if she had spoken to me in English. 
Translated, her tirade was something like this ; 

“So you’re the Jane that went out after eggs and 
came hack without any, are you? Phooey for you — 
you coward. Tried to make out you were hurt too, 
didn’t you? Well you didn’t fool me with your limp. 
What are you an 5 rway, an ant or a lowdown beetle? 
Why don’t you come out and fight? Haven’t you any 
guts? Come on. I’ll dare you!” 

This was more than even a self-respecting war cor- 
respondent could stand, so I replied in the antennae 
language, “0. K., sister. My derby is in the ring. But 
let me warn you in advance that you’re not going to 
fool me with that antiquated head-lock of yours. I’m 
too wise to fall for that old stuff.” 

Whereupon I went for her, using tactics that were 
older than the headlock. Sidestepping the pass which 
she made at me with her mandibles, I hopped nimbly 
on her back. Before she knew what was happening to 
her, I had wrapped one of my forelegs under hers and 
over her neck, in a perfect half-Nelson. With quick 
thrusts of my five other legs, I tripped her neatly and 
flopped her over on her back. Before she had time to 
recover herself, I grabbed her head in my mandibles 
and dragged her quickly to the edge of the ring. 

My feat seemed to make a big hit with the fans'. Miss 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



253 



Lewis had not been a very popular champion, I learned. 
She was altogether too swell-headed — too much inclined 
to brag about her prowesses and to insult her comrades. 

But I soon found that the position of champion wrest- 
ler in a colony of Amazons was not a very enviable one. 
Leadership always has its penalties. Mine was that I 
had to take on all comers. It was no easy matter to 
wrestle with a dozen fresh contestants one after the 
other in rapid succession with no rests between falls. 
Thanks to the tricks I had learned as a human wrestler 
and which the ants did not seem able to solve, I man- 
aged to get through the ordeal with my laurels undis- 
turbed, but by the time the championship had been con- 
ceded to me, I was completely exhausted. 

Thus ended the afternoon of sports and I was es- 
corted back to the nest in triumph. 



CHAPTER IX 
Ant Bootleggers 

I T was then that I noticed for the first time that our 
formicary was tenanted by ants of another species 
beside our own. On my previous visits to the nest 
I had not perceived this — probably because of the pre- 
vailing excitement and my unfamiliarity with the char- 
acteristic odors of my neighbors. 

With more leisure for observation I soon learned, not 
only that the other occupants of the nest were of an 
entirely different species, but that they actually were 
the same kind of ants which we had fought against in 
our recent raiding campaign. Wonder of wonders, the 
Amazons and their small foreign associates were living 
together in the same nest and the most friendly rela- 
tions seemed to exist between them. 

Truth finally dawned on me. The small ants were 
slaves! They had been hatched inside the Amazons’ 
formicary from eggs stolen in some previous raid. And 
now they were in full charge of all activities of the nest 
3vith the exception of the fighting. 

The Slave Makers were wonderful warriors but 
seemed to be useless for any other purpose. All the 
work, such as enlarging the nest, taking care of the 
young and foraging for food was done by the slaves. The 
Amazons lived lives of indolence. Because of this they 
had deteriorated in intelligence. If we had been de- 
prived of our faithful servants I am sure we would 
have starved. Some of us didn’t know enough to feed 
ourselves, when natural food, such as a grub or cater- 
pillar, was placed befoi'e us. The slaves seemed per- 
fectly contented with their lot. They could easily have 
escaped if they had wanted to ; but they remained faith- 
ful to their captors. It seemed incongruous the way 
these little hustlers would look after the big, ungainly 
fighting ants. They would clean us with the utmost 
care, licking our bodies all over and would force us to 
partake of the choicest morsels of food which they had 
previously prepared and regurgitated for us. They 
reminded me of a tender mother taking care of an over- 
grown, inbecile child. 

In the relations between the Amazons and their slaves 
I saw an analogy with the experience of human beings. 
In ancient Rome, for instance, the indolence and luxury 
made possible because of large numbers of slaves taken 
in wars soon led to decadence of the Roman race and 
ultimately to its destruction. It was quite apparent to 
me that among the ants, as has sometimes been the 
case among men, the masters are slaves and the slaves 
are the real masters. 

Strange to say, these insect slave-makers were not 
only indolent but dissipated as well. When she was not 
fighting or playing games, the life of an Amazon was 



one of self-indulgence and drunkenness. They actually 
became drunk; I mean just that. They were supplied 
regularly with a very intoxicating liquor by guests who 
were pampered and petted and fed and who had free run 
of the nest. For obvious reasons I called these strange 
insects “Ant Bootleggers.” 

They reminded me very strongly of a verse from 
Kipling’s vampire: 

“A fool there was and he made his prayer 
Even as you and I 

To a rag and a bone and a hank of hair.” 

Each of the Amazons, I learned, was in the habit of 
making her prayer to a hank of hair. And it was 
blond hair, too — beautiful golden yellow in hue. The 
bootleggers, who resembled small beetles, were dis- 
tinguished by these fine soft bunches of trichomes 
appended to the sides of their bodies. The blond locks 
concealed the openings of glands, of which each beetle 
possessed six. These glands secreted an aromatic, ex- 
tremely volatile liquid. I don’t believe that this liquor 
had any nutritive value whatever; nevertheless, the 
ants seemed to prefer it to good food. 

The Amazons were continually licking the hanks o| 
hair and they swallowed the secretions with great relish. 

Out of couriosity I tried it myself. The stuff had a 
very strong smell and a fiery taste. When I gulped it 
down it went to my head, making me feel giddy and 
carefree. Thus it was that I drew an analogy between 
these guest beetles and human bootleggers. They were 
pampered, encouraged, protected and supported in 
luxury, just because they provided something from 
which their patrons derived a kick. 

I found out later that the little slaves went to all sorts 
of extremes in looking after these bootleggers. The 
beetles were constantly being fed by the busy little 
workers. They bred inside the formicary and the ant 
nurses took better care of their eggs than they did of 
their own brood. 

The bootleggers and the slaves were not the only 
guests who made their homes in the City of the Ama- 
zons. I noticed that some of the ants which had re- 
mained at home during the raid had tiny mites clinging 
to them. They made me think of the familiar doggerel ; 

“Fleas have other fleas to bite ’em 
And so on, ad infinitum.” 

But these Antennophori, or ant mites, did not bite 
their hosts. Instead of being pests they were more like 
pets. None of the ants seemed to object to their pres- 
ence in the least and the parasites took particular pains 
not to make themselves objectionable. Some of the ants 
had only one of the mites. Others had as many as five 
of the little beggars clinging to their bodies. No matter 
how many of them were riding around on a single ant, 
they always arranged themselves symmetrically so as to 
balance each other and to cause the least possible 
amount of discomfort to their host. 

A solitary mite would cling to the under part of the 
ant’s head. Two would attach themselves to the sides 
of the host’s head or to the flanks of its gaster. When 
there were three, one would hang under the head and 
the other two would be fastened on either side of the 
body. In a similar way, four or five would distribute 
themselves in symmetrical patterns over the ant’s per- 
son. 

I happened to come close to a heavily populated ant, 
and in a twinkling of an eye, one of the mites had trans- 
ferred its attentions to me. It clung to the under side 
of my head, successfully defeating all my attempts to 
dislodge it. Immediately the bugs remaining on the 
other ant re-arranged themselves to take care of the 
change in equilibrium. 




254 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



I SOON got over the first excitements of trying to rid 
myself of the mite which had adopted me. Then the 
little rascal began to beg for food. It had long, soft 
legs which felt exactly the same as the antennae of an 
ant. With these legs, it titillated my head in a way 
that was actually pleasing to me. It reminded me of a 
cute little puppy that had been trained to beg for food 
by sitting up on its hind legs. I rewarded it with a 
droplet of regurgitated food and it thanked me elo- 
quently with its pleasing, antenna-like legs. 

It then became clear to me why the ants seemed so 
tolerant of these tiny parasites. Far from being offen- 
sive, they were very pleasant to have around. They 
occupied the same positions in the ant nest that a pet 
cat or dog does in a human habitation. 

Despite the allurements of the golden haired boot- 
leggers and the caresses of the ant pets, I soon became 
weary of the sedentary life of slave making ants. All 
of a sudden I realized that I had failed to keep my 
promise to report each day to Doctor De Villa. Then 
and there I resolved to lose no time in tearing myself 
away from the bad influence of the Amazon colony. I 
found out, however, that this wasn’t as easy as I had 
expected. Whenever I started to leave the nest, a dozen 
or so of the others insisted on accompanying me. Per- 
haps this was due to the glamour which always sur- 
rounded a champion. Like the hangers-on at a boxer’s 
training quarters, my fans hovered around me. It was 
impossible to shake them off. 

Even with my unwelcome bodyguard I felt confident 
that the doctor would be able to recognize me by the 
hair which he had tied around my gaster. But though 
I stood around outside the nest for what must have 
been several hours, I was not picked up. When dark- 
ness fell and the ground became cold, I was forced to 
seek the shelter of the formicary. 

Much as I tried to keep my spirits up I could not help 
worrying. Suppose something had happened to De 
Villa? He might easily have met with an accident or 
become ill so that he could not come and get me. If 
anything like that had happened, what would become of 
me? Would I be forced to spend the rest of my ex- 
istence among those unattractive, degenerate insects? I 
was almost tempted to seek out a golden haired beetle 
and go on a spree so that I could forget my troubles. 
I had sense enough to realize, however, that such an 
act might easily spell my permanent ruin. In my pres- 
ent predicament it was absolutely necessary for me to 
keep sober and in full possession of my faculties. 

For two successive days I strove to attract De Villa’s 
attention. Several times I succeeded in breaking away 
from my coterie of admirers long enough to stand alone 
for several minutes, but still I did not feel myself lifted. 
De Villa’s failure to rescue me became more and more 
puzzling to me. It wasn’t like him to be neglectful. 
Surely something must have happened to him. 

Then one morning, I suddenly found out w'hat was 
wrong. I remembered that the only way De Villa could 
recognize me was by the hair which he had tied about 
my body. During my sojourn among the Amazons I 
had been through a lot of tumbling and scuffling. Was 
the identifying hair still there? With my legs, I ex- 
plored my body, from my head to the tip of my gaster. 
The hair had disappeared! 

All day long I hunted for another hair. Late in the 
afternoon, when I had just about given up the search, 
I came across enough hairs to mark the entire colony. 
They were on the body of a dead caterpillar. I soon 
gnawed off one of the fine hairs and wrapped it around 
my body. After considerable effort, I managed to tie 
a knot in it with my legs. 

By the time I had accomplished this difficult feat it 
was already dark and there was nothing for me to do 



but go back to the formicary and wait for daylight. 

Next morning I awoke to find the nest charged with 
excitement. For some reason, which I was not able to 
fathom, another holiday had been declared. I tried to 
sneak away but without success. It would have been as 
easy for Jack Dempsey to hide in the midst of a crowd 
of fight fans as for me, the champion wrestler of the 
Amazon colony, to make my getaway on a holiday like 
this. 

Since there was nothing for me to do but go along 
with the gang, I tried to make the most of it. 

As before, they started with the pebble rolling game. 
I was foolish enough to attempt the introduction of a 
new game for Antdom. It occurred to me that if they 
were intelligent enough to roll pebbles along the ground 
it ought to be possible to teach them the rudiments of 
a game like football. I managed to get the attention of 
a group of the contestants long enough to divide them 
into two teams and to explain to them that we would 
use only a single large pebble and that one side would 
try to roll it to one end of the arena while the other 
team would try to prevent them from doing so. 

You can easily imagine what happened after that. 
Unfortunately it had not been possible for me to ex- 
plain the rules to all of the spectators. They kept 
running out on the playing field, grabbing the pebble 
or pushing the players to one side. They were like a 
gang of hoodlums starting a riot because the home team 
was getting licked. 

It wasn’t long before they began to get rough. In- 
stead of jostling and wrestling in a good-natured way, 
they began to snap at each other murderously with 
their dangerous mandibles. I was horrified to see a 
score of lifeless bodies, most of them with heads and 
legs missing, lying on the ground. 

There seemed to be no rhyme or reason for the car- 
nage — no distinction between friend and foe. Once the 
lust for battle had been aroused, the ants seemed to 
run amuck, snapping at each other indiscriminately. 

Naturally I got my share of it. 

Without warning, a militant lady ant seized one of 
my legs between her pow'erful mandibles and proceeded 
to bite it off. An instant later another one sunk her 
pincers into my side. I struggled with all my might to 
free myself, but both of them clung to me with more 
tenacity than any bulldog ever thought of using. 

As if this wasn’t enough, I was horrified to see a 
third ant come rushing toward me with murder in her 
eye. At first I had a faint hope that she might help 
me, but when I recognized her I had to abandon that 
idea. 

She was Miss Strangler Lewis! 

When she was close to me she taunted me, somewhat 
like this: 

“So this is you, is it? I’ve found you at last. Now 
I’ve got you just where I want you, Miss New Cham- 
pion!” 

Then she hopped on my back, holding me firmly with 
her six legs, while she calmly and deliberately proceeded 
to gnaw hy head off! She didn’t seem to be in much of 
a hurry about it, either. With all the fiendish cruelty 
of a cat tormenting a mouse, she nibbled at my neck, 
nipping off small pieces and pausing between nips to 
enjoy my suffering. 

I made one last Hei'culean effort to shake off my 
adversaries. Throwing myself on my side, I rolled over 
and over. But my three assailants clung to me, intent 
on tearing me to pieces. 

“Looks like curtains for me,” I told myself, as, weak 
and exhausted, I quit struggling and waited for the end. 

My rescue came from a totally unexpected source. 
Things happened so quickly and so mysteriously that for 
a while I was at a loss to account for them. First I 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 255 



noticed that Miss Lewis had stopped gnawing at my 
neck and had released her hold on me. Then I saw her 
lifeless body, crushed into a shapeless mass, drop to the 
ground beside me. A moment later, another mangled 
gaster, minus the head, lay next to it. I looked at my 
side and saw a bodyless head still clinging to me. This 
miraculous turn of events put new life in me and I 
started to grapple with my third adversary. But before 
I could do anything myself, two huge metal jaws came 
down from the heavens, seized the ant and squeezed 
it to death. 

When I felt myself held gently between those same 
jaws and lifted off the ground, I suddenly realized 
that I had been gaved by my human friend. Doctor Ve 
Villa. 

CHAPTER X 

Ant Cow-punchers 

HAT in the world happend to you?” 

This was the first question Doctor De Villa 
put to me when I was well enough to talk to 
him after my human body had been restored to me. 

“I got into a fight,” I informed him. 

“So I noticed. But what happened to you before that? 
Why didn’t you come out and report to me each day, 
as we agreed?” 

I told him about losing the identifying hair in the 
wrestling match and my failure to discover its absence 
until the day before my rescue. 

“But there was a hair tied around your body when I 
picked you out of that bunch of fighting ants. It was 
yellow instead of white, but I supposed it had become 
stained.” 

“I dug that hair up myself after I found I had lost 
the other one. It sure was a tough job for me to tie it 
in a knot that would hold.” 

“That was mighty resourceful on your part — and it 
was exceedingly fortunate for you. If it hadn’t been 
for that hair I never would have been able to recognize 
you in that huriey-burley of battling insects. W’hen I 
did finally locate you, I soon realized I had arrived just 
in time, A few minutes longer and you, including the 
human part of your brain, would have been destroyed. 
As it was your ant body was so badly mutilated that 
there was no hope for it. Luckily you kept your brain 
alive just long enough for me to make the transfer.” 

“0. K., Doc. Much obliged for saving me. So that’s 
that. What comes next?” 

“What comes next? Have you had enough of ant 
adventures?” 

“As far as those slave makers are concerned, I’m thor- 
oughly washed up on them. They are a bum lot — lazy, 
vicious and unreliable. They are not at all like the 
mushroom growers. I rather enjoyed living with that 
first bunch. In fact I never was so happy in my life. 
I wouldn’t mind going back to them for a few days if 
you’ll promise not to start any young earthquakes with 
your riveting machine.” 

“You don’t need to be afraid of that,” the Doctor 
grinned. “I never make the same mistake twice.” 

“A while back you said you never made any mis- 
takes,” I reminded him. 

“Did I really say that? Perhaps I did. It was rather 
egotistical wasn’t it — egotistical and silly. Everybody 
makes mistakes. The only persons who never make 
mistakes are those who never accomplish anything. But 
if you are really serious about being willing to pay one 
more visit to Antdom I can promise you some experi- 
ences which will be even more pleasant and more in- 
teresting than your work among the Mushroom Grow- 
ers. How yould you like to become an Ant Cow- 
puncher ?” 



“An Ant Cowpuncher!” I cried. “That certainly 
sounds alluring. Will I have to ride a bucking horse- 
fly?” 

“No you won’t have to do any bronco busting. But 
you’ll have a chance to help herd the ant’s cattle.” 

“That is interesting. Do you mean that ants not only 
raise crops but keep livestock as well?” 

“That is precisely what I do mean. And I have a 
splendid colony of Cattle Herders in my garden. The 
correct name for them is Honey Ants. Would you like 
to join them for a few days? 

“Sure! Why not?” was my enthusiastic response. 
“But there’s one condition I’d like to make.” 

“And that is?” 

“That you figure out some better way to recognize me 
W’hen I want to return to you. So far your systems have 
been one hundred percent flops.” 

“Perhaps you are right. But I think I can forestall 
any possible difficulties by painting your back with a 
spot of orange color.” 

“But if you do that, won’t the other ants notice it 
and think there is something phoney about me?” 

“You need have no fears on that score. I have re- 
peatedly experimented with ants marked in this manner 
and none of the other ants seemed to notice the differ- 
ence in their comrade’s looks. 

“And you will be sure to keep a close look-out for 
me?” 

“You may depend on that absolutely.” 

“0. K., then. I’m ready to become an Ant Cow- 
puncher.” 

“I am sure you will enjoy living among the Honey 
Ants,” the doctor assured me. “You’ll find them very 
nice people— much nicer than the Amazons. They are 
a very favored race of ants. Their food supply consists 
almost exclusively of manna.” 

“Manna?” I exclaimed. “Do you mean the stuff men- 
tioned in the Bible — the food that was supposed to have 
been sent down from heaven to feed the Jews when 
they were in the wilderness?” 

“Precisely. It isn’t at all surprising that the Jews 
regarded the finding of manna as a miracle. That was 
the only way they could account for the presence of 
these deposits of sweet, nutritious food on the leaves 
of desert plants. We know now that the manna which 
fed the Israelites was produced by a species of plant 
lice which suck the sap from plants. In going through 
the bodies of these insects, the sap undergoes changes 
w’hich convert it into a syrupy liquid called honey dew’. 
The lice excrete this honey dew on the leaves of the 
plants. When it dries, the residue is a white, sugary 
scale, which the Jews called manna. In Australia, the 
gathering of manna, or "sugar lerp” as it is called, is 
a profitable industry today. One man can collect several 
pounds of it in a day and there is always a ready mar- 
ket for it.” 

“That’s very interesting,” I remarked, “But how do 
the ants get this manna?” 

“Sometimes they gather it from the leaves, as the 
Israelites did. But more often, they obtain it in the 
original form of honey dew, direct from the lice.” 

“But how?” I persisted. 

“You’ll soon find that out when you join the Honey 
Ants. Wouldn’t you rather wait and get your infor- 
mation first hand?” 

“Sure ! That will be the best way to find out, won’t 
it?” 

Ignoring my question. Doctor De Villa went on: 
“Speaking of the Israelites, the Honey Ants are similar 
to the ancient Jews in other ways. Like the Israelites, 
they have reached the pastoral stage in their develop- 
ment. Perhaps I ought to explain that one of the 
strongest points of resemblance between ants knd men 





256 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



is that both genera have developed along parallel lines. 

“The most primitive races, of both ants and men, are 
hunters.' They are represented today by the African 
savage (for the men) and by Driver Ants (for the 
insects). And just as there are semi-savage tribes of 
men who live principally on fruit, nuts and other vege- 
table foods that grow wild, so there are als^ ants which 
gather seeds of wild plants and store them in their 
underground granaries against the time when there is 
no food left to be gathered in the field. 

“Fighting races, like the Huns and the Tartars, who 
at times have lived principally by warring on other 
human beings, have their counterparts in the Amazon 
Ants, or Slave Makers. 

“The next stage is the pastoral or semi-civilized peri- 
od. Even today there are many nomadic tribes who gain 
their livelihood by keeping flocks of domesticated ani- 
mals. In many respects the Honey Ants resemble these 
pastoral people very closely. 

“You have already had an opportunity to study the 
Agricultural Ants, who occupy the next stage in the 
upward climb. Like farmers who live by tilling the soil, 
the Mushroom Growers plant their crops, take care of 
them and reap the harvest. In one sense, therefore, 
these Mushroom Growers have reached a very high stage 
of development — much higher than any animal, except 
man, has ever attained. 

“So far the ants have not arrived at the topmost 
stage reached by the most highly developed men. We 
may call this the industrial and cultural age, which is 
characterized by the use of machinery and by the 
acquisition and recording of knowledge. 

“No animal — not even the ant — has come anywhere 
near accomplishing what man has done in conquering 
and utilizing the forces of nature and in gaining knowl- 
edge and passing it on to posterity. 

“On the other hand, there is one species of ant which 
has taken the first step toward the industrial age. 
They are called the Weaver Ants. Because they are 
the only animals, except human beings, who make con- 
scious use of a tool, they may well be regarded as the 
most highly developed animals next to man.” 

“And will I have a chance to live among the Weaver 
Ants?” I asked. 

“If you wish. But possibly you may have an oppor- 
tunity to observe them from the outside. I have a 
colony of Weaver Ants who are close neighbors of the 
Honey Ants. You may be able to learn a great deal 
about them without necessarily becoming one of them.” 

“That’s all very intriguing,” said I. “And now, if 
you don’t mind. I’ll hit the hay.” 

T he following day I again submitted to an oper- 
ation. Having my head excavated was now' becom- 
ing a commonplace thing to me. It was not exactly an 
enjoyable experience, but I regarded it in much the 
same light as I did a series of disagreeable but neces- 
sary trips to the dentist, 

I had no difficulty in getting by the doorkeepers of 
the Cow Punchers’ nest. My password was a crop full 
of honey which Doctor De Villa had permitted me to im- 
bibe before he placed me near my new home. 

The architecture of this formicary was quite different 
from those of the Mushroom Growers or the Slave 
Makers, but in the general arrangement of the chambers 
and passageways, the effect was quite similar. One 
of the distinguishing features of the Honey Ants’ nest 
was a system of long narrow tunnels, extending in sev- 
eral directions for long distances from the central por- 
tion. I noticed that in one of these tunnels the work 
of excavation was still going on. Through it hustled 
two steady streams of busy ants. Those coming out 
were carrying tiny grains of earth in their mandible 



which they painstakingly deposited outside the nest. 

After indulging in the customary regurgitation cere- 
monies with two of my comrades, I joined the procession 
of unladen ants and marched into the tunnel. I must 
have made at least a hundred round trips, each time 
carrying a piece of dirt outside, before I discovered the 
purpose of this sapper work. We had finally reached 
what must have been the roots of some plant or shrub. 
Clinging to these roots were a number of little insects. 
In the darkness I could not see them of course, but by 
passing my feelers over one of them I found out that its 
body was shaped like a tiny lemon. The odor which 
emanated from these bugs was delightful. It was a 
sweet smell, like that of honey, but much more penetrat- 
ing and appetizing. 

Eemembering the bootleggers and the Mushroom 
Growers, I jumped to the conclusion that the bugs we 
had just found were parasites of an entirely different 
species. It wasn’t long, however, before I learned that 
far from being parasites, these tiny friends of ours fur- 
nished us with ample supplies of excellent, pleasing 
food. Not only that, but they were the only source of 
food which this particular colony of ants possessed. 

By examining them more carefully and by visualizing 
what they would probably look like, I recognized the 
oval-shaped insects as Aphids or Plant Lice. I recalled 
that when I was a youngster several of our rose bushes 
had been seriously infested by these tiny pests. Their 
destructive effect on plants was due to their habit of 
boring through the bark and sucking the sweet sap into 
their bodies. 

At first I thought that the ants would obtain this 
food, just as they secure it from each other — by re- 
gurgitation, but this was not the case. Apparently the 
Aphids were able to digest the plant sap and still 
secrete a very palatable and nourishing residue for the 
ants' benefit. 

By watching the other ants, I learned how this food 
was secured. They stroked the aphids very gently and 
tenderly with their antennae. Evidently this gave pleas- 
ure to the plant lice, which obligingly secreted a droplet 
of honey dew. The ant promptly lapped up the globule 
and then I'epeated the same performance with another 
Aphid. 

Upon completing this “milking” process with all the 
Aphids, the ants returned to the center of the nest. I 
followed them to see what they would do next. 

Penetrating far into the lowermost recesses of the 
nest we entered a vaulted chamber. The arched roof 
was covered with some of the most peculiar objects I 
have ever “perceived.” From their “smell images” I 
pictured them as being spherical in form. They were 
grouped in clusters like bunches of small grapes or 
currants. At first I thought they were some kind of 
fruit, which like the “Kohlrabis” of the Mushroom 
Growers had been trained to grow underground. But 
when, following the example of the others, I crawled up 
the wall of the cavern and approached these mysteri- 
ous objects, I discovered to my astonishment that they 
were living ants! 

It was no wonder that I hadn’t recognized them when 
I first entered their chamber, for their bodies were 
swollen until they were at least ten times the normal 
size of worker ants. They reminded me somewhat of 
the large queen ant I had visited in the nest of the 
Mushroom Growers, but her gaster was oval in shape 
while the bodies of the huge Honey Ants were almost 
perfect spheres. 

The dairymaids which had just come from the herd 
of Aphids disgorged the honey dew from their crops 
into the mouths of the currant-like ants, thus making 
them even larger than they were before. Then I under- 
stood. The inhabitants of this chamber were kepletes 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



257 



— living flagons or honey-jars. Their crops had become 
distended until they made up nearly the entire bulk of 
the insect, squeezing all their other organs into very 
tiny spaces. Something told me that these self-sacri- 
ficing creatures were doomed to remain there for the 
rest of their lives, clinging to the roof of this subter- 
ranean chamber and serving as storage receptacles for 
the municipal food of the colony. 

As I was about to leave the cavern of the Repletes, 
I smelled two or three newcomers, who did not seem to 
have any honey dew in their crops. They climbed up 
to the roof, each approaching one of the Repletes and 
demanding food. The dutiful insects responded by re- 
gurgitating some of the honey dew from their enormous 
crops and the workers went away satisfied and strength- 
ened for the labors they were destined to perform. 

Together with my newly found companions, I returned 
to the place where we had discovered the Aphids. The 
little cave which had been excavated around the roots 
where they were feeding had become uncomfortably 
cool, from which I inferred that night had fallen. With 
the most solicitous care, each ant picked up an Aphid 
between its mandibles and trotted back to the living 
quarters. Thus our cattle were carried to their under- 
ground “stables” which felt as if they were at least 
ten degrees warmer than their feeding place. 

On the following morning, when the earth began to 
warm up, we again picked up our cattle, carrying them 
back to the roots on which we had first found them. 

In this formicary, as in the other two that I had pre- 
viously visited, there was a lot of work to do besides 
that of obtaining food. The nest was always scrupu- 
lously clean and free from refuse of every description. 
To make this possible a large squad of scavengers and 
janitors were kept constantly busy. There was also a 
considerable number of nurses whose duty it was to 
take care of the eggs, larvae and nymphs, shifting 
them from place to place, licking them repeatedly to 
cleanse them and feeding the young antlets. Since I 
wasn’t especially interested in the career of a janitor 
or a nurse, I stuck to the job I had picked out first — ■ 
namely that of herding the cattle. 

I was kept so busy that there was not much time 
for reflection, but during one of those rare occasions 
when I was resting, it occurred to me that this par- 
ticular colony was very happily situated. Thanks to 
the subterranean habits of the plant lice, we could 
even secure our food supply without going out of the 
nest. That led me to wonder if any of the inhabitants 
of the formicary would ever want to leave our under- 
ground home, except to get rid of dirt or refuse. It 
w'as perfectly obvious that a large number of them 
were constantly departing from the nest and returning 
to it again, for the passages leading to the exit were 
always crowded with workers. I watched them closely 
to see if they were excavators or scavengers, but most 
of them carried no burdens whatever. 

“Why?” I asked myself. 

The question puzzled me so much that I determined 
to find out for myself. All I had to do was to follow 
some of my nest-mates, who were outward bound. It 
was thus I learned that we had two kinds of cattle — 
one which lived underground, sucking the sap from 
roots, and the other which fed on the branches and 
twigs of plants above the ground. 

The Aphids which lived in the open air seemed to 
be larger and more numerous than our underground 
herds. In the bright sunlight, I had a much better 
opportunity to study them. Their bodies were egg- 
shaped and were pale green in color. Each had six 
short legs and a tiny head which was equipped with a 
very efficient tool for boring through the bark and 
sucking out the sap. I noticed that some of them had 



wings while others had none. This surprising fact 
was accounted for when I saw one of the ant cow- 
punchers neatly amputate the wings from one of our 
flying cows. The operation was done so skillfully that 
the patient didn’t seem to mind it in the least. This 
was the ant’s method of branding her cattle and pre- 
venting them from escaping. 

CHAPTER XI 

Fighting Cattle Rustlers 

I LEARNED that the duties of an ant cattle herder 
were numerous, varied and arduous. Not only 
did we have to “milk” our charges regularly and 
provide them with comfortable shelter, but we also 
protected them from their natural enemies and acted 
as nursemaids for their young. We even had insect 
prototypes of “cattle rustlers” to contend with. 

Our colony, which must have numbered at least a 
hundred thousand, owned several herds of Aphids. The 
one which fed on plants located close to the nest were 
carried one by one into the formicary each evening. 
Each morning they were again lugged out into the 
open air and were placed on the most succulent 
branches. When the feeding plants were at a consid- 
erable distance from headquarters, the ants saved 
themselves the work of toting their charges back and 
forth by building tents into which they drove the 
Aphids at night. Constructed of fragments of wood 
fiber, matted together into a sort of felt, these insect 
cow-sheds provided warm, comfortable homes which 
were impervious to rain. 

Even here, the ant guardians took the most solici- 
tous care of their cattle’s brood. As soon as any eggs 
were laid by the Aphids, they were immediately picked 
up by the ants and were carried inside the formicary, 
where special chambers were reserved for them. The 
nurses who attended the Aphid eggs took better care 
of them than they did of the young ants. This ex- 
plained to me one of the mysteries which puzzled me 
when I was an amateur gardener. Even though the 
human beings who own the plants may succeed in wip- 
ing out an entire generation of Aphids their progeny 
usually appear on the scene the following spring, 
thanks to the protection they have received from their 
friends and owners — the ants. 

I became very much attached to the ant cows. They 
seemed such droll, care-free, happy-go-lucky creatures. 
One of them in particular, which I loved to watch, had 
all the comedy sense of a successful cow. She always 
attacked her work with boisterous enthusiasm. When 
she W'as sucking the sap from a tender branch, she 
would cock her head in the, most roguish fashion and 
would stick her two hind legs straight up in the air. 
The way she manipulated her legs reminded me of a 
famous comedienne of the stage and screen, and I 
promptly christened her “Charlotte Greenwood.” 

Once when I was at some distance away from Char- 
lotte, busily engaged in “milking” honey dew from one 
of her companions, I looked up just in time to witness 
a tragedy. With marvelous agility a horrible crea- 
ture, pale yellow in color, with a black stripe running 
down its back, darted out from under a leaf and seized 
one of the Aphids in its powerful jaws. It didn’t at- 
tempt to chew or swallow its victim, being content 
with sucking all the life juices out of the hapless louse. 
Within what seemed but a few seconds there was noth- 
ing left of the Aphid but a hollow shell of chitin, I 
afterward learned that the assassin was a lace wing 
larva, commonly known as an Aphid Lion. 

As quickly as I could, I hurried toward Charlotte to 
warn her of her danger, for she was but a short dis- 




258 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



tance away from the scene of the murder. But before 
I could reach her, the lion dropped its kill and made a 
vicious snap at her. Evidently she had received some 
intimation of her peril, for she gave a comical side- 
ways jump and the larva’s spring fell short. At the 
same instant she discharged from two tubercles pro- 
truding out of her body a sticky secretion which com- 
pletely covered the face and forceps of the lion. 

An occasion of this sort was of course no time for 
comedy and I am sure that Charlotte’s sole thought 
was to defend herself in the only way she knew how, 
but to me the episode was one of the funniest situa- 
tions I have ever seen. 

Surprised and disconcerted by this unexpected at- 
tack from his intended victim, the lion retired and 
tried to wipe the rapidly hardening secretion from 
its face. It reminded me for all the world of a fat 
and unpopular movie “heavy” who has just been deco- 
rated with a gooey custard pie. 

Funny as it seemed to me, that slapstick comedy 
trick spelled the doom of Mister Lion. Attracted by 
the unusual vibrations of the twig on which all this 
took place, one of the ant guardians rushed at the 
larva and sunk its mandibles in its neck. 

Ordinarily, because of its exceptional agility and its 
terrible jaws, one of these Aphid Lions would be more 
than a match of a single ant. But, thanks to Char- 
lotte’s strategy, the would-be murderer became the 
victim. By the time I arrived on the scene, its body 
was being torn to pieces by the other ant cowpunchers 
which had hastened to the rescue. 

During the short time I was among the Honey Ants, 
I witnessed many such battles and participated in two 
or three of them. Whenever we succeeded in locating 
one of these murderous Aphid Lions, several of us at- 
tacked it at once and we never failed to slay the mon- 
ster. Before we put them out of the way, however, 
they usually took frightful toll from our herds of Ant 
Cows. 

One of my comrades was remarkably skillful in ap- 
prehending these criminals. Her methods would do 
credit to a scientific human detective. Whenever she 
came across the sucked-out shell of an Aphid, she set 
out to trail the murderer. Sometimes, when the body 
of the victim had fallen from the branch to the 
ground, the Ant Sleuth needed nothing more than a 
drop of aphid jurce (corresponding to blood) as a 
clew to the identity of the assassin. With inexorable 
patience, she would search among the twigs and leaves 
until she located her quarry, then she would enlist a 
handful of ant deputies and would lead them in lynch- 
ing the culprit. 

Because of aptitude in catching criminals, I dubbed 
this ant. Miss Sherlocka Holmes. 

Sherlocka also led in the work of eliminating other 
criminals besides the Aphid Lions. Like human cow- 
punchers we ants had to contend with cattle rustlers 
belonging to our own race. 

So crafty were these thieves that it was some time 
before we discovered their presence. Our first inkling 
that we were being robbed was when we tried to 
“milk” a herd of Aphids which we had set out to pas- 
ture near the tips of some branches at a considerable 
distance away from our nest. Time after time, when 
we came to them and stroked them in the usual way 
we found that they could give us only very small 
amounts of honey dew, when they should have had a 
plentiful supply. 

We also noticed that the size of this particular flock 
was decreasing very rapidly, yet there were no dead 
bodies or other indications that our cattle were being 
killed by Aphid Lions. So long as we remained near 
the Aphids nothing happened, but when we went away 



for a while to attend our other flocks and then re- 
turned we always found some of the Aphids missing 
and the rest of them drained of their honey dew. 

Sherlocka took upon herself the task of solving the 
mystery. Noticing that she remained behind after 
all the other Honey Ants had departed, I decided to 
stay with her. Following her example, I crawled up 
on a leaf which was a few inches away from the 
Aphids’ feeding ground. There was a brisk wind 
blowing in a direction which carried our scent away 
from the pasture. We could plainly distinguish the 
sweet, pleasant smell of our cattle as they sucked con- 
tentedly on the tender twigs. 

Suddenly an unmistakable ant odor was wafted to 
our antennae. But it was the smell of ants belonging 
to an entirely different race from ours. Crawling to 
the edge of the leaf, I peered over. There they were 
sure enough! About a dozen of the Ant Rustlers were 
busily engaged in “milking” our cows. When they 
had extracted the last drop of honey dew, they scam- 
pered off, crossing to another shrub by means of a 
branch which hung over and touched the bush on 
which our cattle were feeding. The last two to leave 
picked up an Aphid apiece and carried them off. 

This was too much for Sherlocka. Without running 
for help as she usually did when she discovered an 
Aphid Lion, she rushed along the branch and made a 
vicious attack on the vanguard of the rustlers. I was 
right behind her and I managed to hop on the back of 
one of the Aphid stealers. Had the rest of the band 
turned to fight, Sherlocka and I would probably have 
been slaughtered, but they evidently thought our en- 
tire tribe was back of us, for they retreated hurriedly, 
leaving their two comrades to their fate. 

Though the rustlers were much bigger than we, 
Sherlocka and I made short work of our adversaries. 
Our victory was largely due to the unexpectedness of 
our attack and to the fact that the rustlers didn’t have 
sense enough to drop the Aphids which they held fast 
in their mandibles until we had killed them. Strange 
to say, the two lice didn’t seem to be hurt in the least 
As soon as the smoke of battle had cleared away they 
nonchalantly inserted their sucking tubes into the 
branch on which they were standing and proceeded to 
wave their hind legs about as if they were glad they 
were still alive. 

After that we kept ten or twelve of our “cowgirls,” 
including Sherlocka and me, constantly on guard over 
that particular herd. Several times the rustlers made 
their appearance, but as soon as they caught our scent 
they would beat a hasty retreat. They didn’t seem 
numerous enough or bold enough to put up a real 
battle for the possession of the plant lice. Though 
the Aphids were in one sense wild creatures that any- 
one had a right to kill or to use, there seemed to be a 
clear understanding that this particular herd belonged 
to us by right of original possession. The ru.stlers 
knew that their raids had been illegal and for that rea- 
son they apparently didn’t feel justified in attempting 
to dispute possession of the cattle by means of mass 
warfare. 

CHAPTER XII 

The Ant That Used a Tool 

O NE day, after one of these half-hearted attempts 
at rustling on the part of the alien ants, my 
curiosity got the better of me and I did a very 
reckless thing. 

I followed the rustlers to their home ! 

Fully aware was I of the risks I was taking in thus 
venturing single-handed into the enemy’s territory. 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



259 



Had I been caught anywhere near the home of the 
other ants I would have been executed on the spot as 
a spy. 'Fortunately the wind was in my favor, blowing 
full in my face, so that the ants ahead of me had no 
way of knowing I was following them. I had expected 
them to climb down the trunk of the shrub to an un- 
derground nest similar to all the other ant homes I 
had seen, but I learned that this particular species 
of ant built its nest right in among the branches. 

Soon we came to a large leaf which was swarming 
with ants. I selected a position where I could see and 
smell well without being seen or scented by them. 
What I witnessed then was made up of a combination 
of dim, imperfect visual impressions together with 
very clear “smell-pictures.” Several of the ants clung 
together in a line, as children do when they play “Lon- 
don Bridge is Falling Down.” With her two forelegs, 
each ant grasped the body of the one in front of her, 
until a chain several inches long had been formed. 
Then the foremost ant took hold of the edge of the 
leaf in her mandibles and hung on for dear life. 
Slowly the line behind her backed away, all the insects 
pulling together until the leaf had been curled into a 
tube. As the distant edge was drawn close it was 
grasped in the mandibles of a row of ants who were 
standing side by side on the leaf to receive it. 

Then came the most astonishing sight I have ever 
seen. Working from the inside, one of the ants 
started to move back and forth across the place where 
the edges of the leaf were being held together. After 
she had made several trips back and forth along the 
leaf, I saw that the joint was being made fast by 
strands of fine, silky thread. At first I thought the 
ant Was spinning this thread, just as a spider does, but 
I soon saw that the silk was coming not from her own 
mouth but from something she was holding between 
her mandibles. When she came to the end of the leaf 
that was close to my hiding place I was able to find 
out what this object was. It was a full grown larva 
— an ant grub which had just reached the point in its 
development when it was ready to spin its cocoon! 

Holding this larva in her mandibles, the ant weaver 
squeezed it gently, forcing it to spin its silk. Thus she 
was using one of her baby sisters as a combined dis- 
taff, spinning wheel, and shuttle. 

After she had passed back and forth across the seam 
i-epeatedly she threaded the larva in and out in such 
a way as to weave a strong fabric which held the edges 
of the leaf firmly together. 

So absorbed had I been in watching the Weaver 
Ants, that I did not notice that the sky had become 
clouded and it had begun to sprinkle. Suddenly the 
heavens opened and the rain came down in torrents. 

I was almost tempted to make a rush for the protec- 
tion of the Weavers’ leaf home, which I had just seen 
them construct. But I knew instinctively that I would 
be torn to pieces the moment I came within reach of 
their murderous mandibles, so I refrained from acting 
on this foolish impulse. It was imperative for me to 
get back to the nest of the Honey Ants as quickly 
as possible, that was clear. 

But how was I to accomplish this? 

Knowing that I was leaving a strongly scented trail 
behind me wherever I walked, I hadn’t felt the slight- 
est fear about wandering so far away from home. 
But now the heavy rain had obliterated all traces of 
my footsteps, I became somewhat concerned about 
finding my way back. 

Like a horseman who had lost his way and who 
gives his steed the rein, depending on its animal in- 
stinct to bring him safely back to the stable, I de- 
cided to relinquish the hold which the human part of 
my brain exercised over my body and allow my ant 



nature and intelligence to have its unrestricted 

Without a moment’s hesitation, my ant-legs carrmd 
me speedily on my way. The human segment of my 
brain didn’t have the slightest idea where I was going, 
but the ant seemed absolutely sure of itself. 

Though I made no effort to control the movements 
of my body, I did keep my human consciousness on 
the alert. I thought at first that my ant-nature would 
try to find its way back by remembering in reverse 
order the path I had taken on the outward journey. 
I soon became convinced, however, that this method 
was not used. Had I followed the same path on the 
way back, I would certainly have recognized at least 
one or two landmarks, but such was not the case. On 
the conti-ary I felt certain that I was returning by a 
different and much shorter route. 

It seemed but a few seconds before I found myself 
at the opening of our nest. 

The only way I can account for my astonishing suc- 
cess in finding my way back is that I seemed to carry 
somewhere in my body an inductive compass which 
automatically pointed out to me the direction in which 
I was to move. Naturally my path, leading along 
twigs, across leaves, down branches, over grass blades 
and around stones, was far from straight. Yet I 
seemed to keep in my mind constantly the conscious- 
ness that the nest was in a certain direction from me, 
and thither I went, arriving at my destination without 
the least bit of searching. 

Within the nest there seemed to be a lot of activity 
going on. Noticing the disturbance, I feared that the 
lower levels of our formicary had been flooded by the 
rain, but such was not the case. Most of the excite- 
ment seemed to be centered around the winged mem- 
bers of our colony. During the last few days hun- 
dreds of these aviator ants had been wandering around 
in the underground passageway, but they had not 
been permitted to leave the nest. There were two 
kinds of them. By far the greater majority were 
only slightly larger than the rest of us, but were quite 
different from the workers in structure. I noticed 
particularly that their eyes seemed to be very well 
developed and I guessed that they were the male ants. 

The other winged ants, which were fewer in number 
than the males, must have been at least three times as 
large as their brothers. They were the true females 
who were destined to become the queen mothers of 
future colonies. 

Hitherto these wunged inmates of our city had been 
very docile. They had^ been perfectly content to re- 
main inside the nest, w6ere the workers had fed them, 
cleansed them, and attended to all their other needs. 
But now they seemed impatient to be off. In spite of 
the rain and the coldness of that stormy afternoon, 
they kept running about, struggling to get outside the 
nest. This the conscientious and wise workers would 
not permit. Gently but firmly, they caught hold of 
their over-zealous sisters and brothers and restrained 
them, dragging them back into the lower chambers of 
the nest. 

O N the following day, which was warm and sun- 
shiny, the same performance was repeated. The 
workers, who were usually so diligent, didn’t perform 
a lick of work that day. They completely neglected 
their herds of plant lice and spent the entire day in 
running excitedly about the nest, tenderly cleansing 
the winged ants, feeding them and caressing them. As 
on the previous day, the males and virgin winged fe- 
males were like a great herd of fire-horses, pawing 
the ground in their eagerness to be off; but this the 
workers, who seemed to control the situation, would 
not permit them to do. 




260 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



Naturally I participated in the excitement and did 
my share of grooming and provisioning the would-be 
aviators. I seemed to have a feeling within me such 
as a baby feels a few days before Christmas. I knew 
that something important was going to happen soon 
but that the time was not quite ripe yet. 

It wasn’t until the second day after the rain storm 
that the winged ants were allowed to depart. When 
the sun had risen high enough so that the ground was 
delightfully warm, the guardians of the nest released 
their prisoners and all of us, males, females and work- 
ers, streamed out of the nest. 

Immediately the flyers took to the air. From what 
Doctor De Villa had previously told me about the ants’ 
nuptial flights I, of course, understood the significance 
of this momentous event. I assumed that the wed- 
dings would take place between brothers and sisters 
from the same family, but I soon learned that even 
among ants with their strictly “closed corporations” 
and their jealousy in preventing strangers from en- 
tering their cities. Nature had provided a way for 
keeping the race strong and healthy through the ad- 
vantages of interbreeding. 

As soon as our sisters and brothers had hopped off 
many of them flew in different directions. Those who 
remained flying overhead were soon joined by other 
flying ants who were of the same race as ours but who 
must have belonged to other formicaries. It wasn’t 
long before the air was full of them. Though many 
of those from our nest had departed, the swarms over- 
head were much more numerous than the entire dele- 
gation which had been hatched in our nurseries. They 
were like a huge swirling cloud, so densely packed that 
they almost blotted out the light of the sun. 

I was utterly at a loss to account for this remark- 
able gathering of courting ants who must have come 
from several different nests. With no means of com- 
munication between the various ant cities, how did 
they all know that this day, of all days in the year, 
had been authoritatively set aside to be the great wed- 
ding day? This is one of the mysteries that no man 
has ever been able to solve. Even with the advantage 
I had of being on the inside, I didn’t have the slightest 
inkling of how it was accomplished. All I know is 
that I, like all my fellow workers, was absolutely sure 
whe« the appointed time had arrived. 

Most of the marriages took place in the air. I saw 
one of the married females alight on the ground near 
our nest. The first thing she did was to tear off her 
wings. She seemed to understand that she would have 
to spend the rest of her life underground where her 
wings would be of no use to her. She crawled away 
until she was several yards from our nest. Then she 
dug a hole in the ground with her mandibles, crawled 
inside of it and pulled the dirt around her until she 
was completely buried. Within her body she carried 
all the materials necessary for starting a community 
of over half a million inhabitants. 

On the day after the celebration of these wholesale 
wedding ceremonies our colony had a disastrous ex- 
perience with a female who tried to establish herself 
as queen in an entirely different manner from that 
practised by the mother ants of our own species. 

I happened to be near the opening of our nest when 
she first made her appearance among us. By her 
wicked, sickle-shaped mandibles I recognized her im- 
mediately. She belonged to the dreaded tribe of Ama- 
zons. As soon as she came close to the opening of our 
nest, five or six of the Honey Ants who were nearby 
rushed at her. Though they were less than one-third 
her size and were not nearly so well armed, they at- 
tacked her in a most heroic manner. 

Knowing as I did how terrible those long pointed 



mandibles could be, I trembled for the safety of my 
comrades. Much to my surprise, however, the alien 
did not retaliate. Instead she stroked her tiny antag- 
onists affectionately with her antenna and offered 
them food which she had regurgitated from her well 
filled crop. It was quite evident that she was trying 
to placate them. She wanted them to receive her as 
a friend. 

The vibration of the struggle had attracted more 
of the Honey Ants, who swarmed out of the nest and 
joined in the attack. Ignoring the gestures of seeming 
friendliness on the part of the interloper, the defend- 
ers of the formicary seemed to understand that they 
had to deal with a deadly enemy who must be pre- 
vented from entering their sanctuary at any cost. 

Despite their numbers and the valiant way in which 
they attacked her, the small, peaceful Honey Ants were 
no match for the monstrous Amazon. Gently but firmly 
she forced her way inside the nest, with dozens of the 
small Honey Ants clinging ineffectually to her body. 

Remembering that my role was that of war corre- 
spondent and historian, I did my best to observe 
closely everything that subsequently happened. I real- 
ized that a very momentous event was taking place 
and I resolved not to miss any of it. Consequently I 
remained as close as possible to the Amazon without 
doing anything to oppose her. During the succeeding 
happenings, I carefully kept beyond reach of her mur- 
derous mandibles, but at the same time I followed her 
all about, staying within smelling distance so that I 
could observe everything she did. 

It soon became apparent that the Amazon was try- 
ing to locate our nursery. Since our brood was near 
the surface it didn’t take her long to find a chamber 
in which several hundred cocoons were stored. The 
alien female immediately took possession of them. 
Once she had reached this objective, her tactics 
changed. Instead of continuing with her efforts to 
calm and placate her adversaries she suddenly turned 
on them and attacked them furiously. Her method 
was horribly efficient. All she had to do was to seize the 
head of one of the smaller ants betwen her sharp 
pointed mandibles and her victim was completely out 
of the picture with its brain pierced. In this manner 
she attacked each of her antagonists in turn until she 
had slain all of them. 

B y this time more ants had come running from 
the other parts of the nest. When they sized up 
the situation they realized that there wasn’t much of a 
chance to kill the intruder so they contented them- 
selves with trying to carry off some of the cocoons. 

This strategem seemed to make the Amazon furious. 
In the universal languge of the ants she rebuked the 
rightful owners of the brood. 

“You dirty thieves!” she denounced us. “These chil- 
dren belong to me! How dare you steal them away 
from me?” 

It was quite apparent that she thought she was 
absolutely within her rights. Instead of realizing that 
she herself was a murderer and a child stealer, she 
actually looked on the rest of us as criminals, who 
were trying to deprive her of property that lawfully 
belonged to her. 

After the Amazon had killed several more of the 
Honey Ants because they had the temerity to come 
near the brood, those of us who were left decided that 
there was nothing to do but surrender that particular 
group of children to her. If she had been contented 
with that it wouldn’t have been so bad, but we soon 
found that she had even more nefarious designs 
against our colony. 

It wasn’t long before my sister workers, brave as 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



261 



they all were, became so afraid of the horrible, sickle- 
shaped weapons of the Amazon that they no longer at- 
tempted to restrain her movements but gave her a 
wide berth whenever she came near. The interloper 
became more and more arrogant. No longer did she re- 
main in the nursery where she first revealed her vil- 
lainy. She soon had the undisputed run of the whole 
formicary. As she strutted through the passageways 
in search of more children to steal she attacked and 
killed every Honey Ant who came in her way. 

On one of these trips of exploration, she located the 
holy-of-holies, the royal chamber where the Queen of 
the Honey Ants lived. 

AVithout a moment’s hesitation, she crawled over 
the large body of our Mother and perched on her back! 
Here she suddenly became gentle and friendly again. 
At least she pretended to be friendly, stroking our 
Queen with her antenna and licking her body affec- 
tionately. 

This seemed to produce an immediate change in the 
attitude of the Honey Ants. If this newcomer was a 
friend of their beloved Mother she must be all right. 
No longer did they shun her or try to harass her. In- 
stead, some of them actually crawled up on her body 
and began to cleanse and caress her. Others ap- 
proached her fearlessly from the front and offered her 
choice droplets of honey dew which they regurgitated 
for her benefit. She accepted all these attentions and 
gifts as if she regarded them as her rightful due. 

I don’t think any of my sisters had the slightest 
idea of how far the treachery of the alien queen would 
go. Because I knew from experience how unreliable 
the Amazon People were, I didn’t share in the trust 
which my comrades now seemed to place in her. That 
my suspicions were well-founded soon became apparent. 

While she was perched on the back of our Mother, 
seemingly caressing her in a very affectionate manner, 
she was really engaged in a stealthy and treacherous 
act. Slowly and cautiously, she was sawing away at 
the neck of our legitimate Queen. On the day after 
her arrival in our city she had completed her un- 
speakable task. Our Mother lay dead, with her head 
completely severed from her body. 

Even then, my sister ants didn’t seem to have a clear 
understanding of what had happened. It was a ca- 
lamity, to be sure. Their dear Mother and Queen was 
dead, but fortunately there was another fertile Queen 
to replace her. 

“The Queen is dead! Long live the Queen!” 

How often has this same drama been enacted among 
human beings! Now it had taken place in the king- 
dom of the Honey Ants! 

From the account I have just given, it may sound 
as if the acts of that Amazon Queen represented the 
lowest degree of baseness, treachery, crime and inhu- 
manity. Through a series of wholesale murders, cul- 
minating in the assassination of the legal ruler, she 
had succeeded in usurping the throne and placing her- 
self at the head of a great people. 

“Monstrous!” is the natural human reaction to such 
a story. “Only a despicable insect could act like that !” 

But wait! Just take a glance over the pages of his- 
tory. And you don’t need to confine your search to the 
stories of savage and barbarous people. Even among 
those who considered themselves to be highly cultured 
and civilized — even among those who were supposed 
to be devoutly religious — we can find numerous ex- 
amples which would make the crimes of the Amazon 
Queen look tame in comparison. 

Her sins at least were committed against strangers 
and aliens ; but the worst crimes of human beings have 
been perpetrated against their own kin. To gain and 



retain their thrones, human monarchs have murdered 
their brothers and sisters, their mothers and fathers 
— and even their own children. Thus it became clear 
to me, that even in their most despicable acts of vio- 
lence the ants resemble human beings but with this 
impoi'tant difference: men have perpetrated felonies 
that were much worse than an insect ever thought of. 

It was not until I had deliberated the matter for 
some time that I realized the full significance of this 
coup on the part of the Amazon Queen. 

Now that she was in full possession of the throne — 
now that she had been accepted by all her future sub- 
jects — now that she w'as being pampered, caressed and 
fed just like a legitimate queen, she was sitting pretty 
for the rest of her life. 

Soon she would start the most important work of all 
—that of laying eggs and producing an army of young 
Amazons. In the meantime all her needs would be 
taken care of by the faithful Honey Ants whom she 
had tricked into serving her. 

AA’hen her own brood hatched out, they would be in- 
capable of looking after themselves. It would be nec- 
essary for the Honey Ants to feed and nurse them. 
Without their newMotherto keep renewing their depleted 
numbers, that particular colony of Honey Ants would 
soon be wiped out. Since the Amazons were only good 
for fighting, their only hope was to raid other nests, 
stealing the young and thus obtaining new supplies of 
slaves to wait on them. Then would follow the sort 
of life I had experienced among the Slave Makers. 
There would be carousing and dissipation made pos- 
sible by the golden haired Bootleggers and inter- 
rupted only when they engaged in games or maraud- 
ing expeditions against other ants. 

CHAPTER XIII 
Imprisoned ! 

T hough the death of our Queen Mother was a 
sad blow to us, we all took our loss philosoph- 
ically. We carried her body out of the nest and 
buried it with due reverence. Then we went back to 
our pastoral life of herding, “milking” and looking 
after our Aphid Cattle. I realized that the time had 
now come for me to forsake my newly made friends, 
and return to my human body. But before giving the 
prearranged signal to Doctor De Villa, I did a very 
foolish thing. Hitherto I had not participated to any 
great extent in the “milking” work. My activities had 
been confined principally to watching the others and 
helping them defend our flocks against enemies. An 
ant, I learned, doesn’t need to eat very much to keep 
alive. Nearly all the food I had consumed was given 
to me by my sisters who were always glad to regur- 
gitate a droplet for me whenever I asked for it. 

I didn’t want to leave the Honey Ants without find- 
ing out more about this “milking” process. What I 
learned is this: Wild plant lice are in the habit of 
shooting their excretions at some distance from their 
bodies. Usually it fell on the leaves of the plants, \ 
where it soon dried, forming the scales of manna ' 
which Doctor De Villa had described to me. But after 
they were adopted by the ants these Aphids changed 
their habits completely. Instead of expelling the 
honey dew forcefully, they seemed to hold it back, stor- 
ing it in their bodies until the ant dairymaids came 
to collect it. 

When I emulated my sister ants and stroked one of 
the Aphids with my antenna, I noticed that a tiny drop 
appeared at the end of the “cow’s” body. She must 
have squeezed it out very gently for my special benefit. 
All I had to do was to lick it off with my tongue and 




262 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



deposit it in my crop. So interested did I become in 
this occupation that I didn’t notice how much of the 
sweet tasting fluid I was putting into my collective 
pouch. It wasn’t until the fading light told me that 
night was approaching that I thought of quitting my 
work and returning home. 

Much to my distress, I discovered that my gaster 
had become so large and so heavy that I could hardly 
crawl. Without I’ealizing what I was doing I had kept 
pouring honey dew into my crop until it had swelled 
out to several times its normal size. When I finally 
dragged my weary body to the opening of the formi- 
caiT, the gate keepers greeted me with intense excite- 
ment. Instead of permitting me to pass after the usual 
exchange of caress, they took hold of me and started 
leading me along the main passageway of the nest. 
Further and further they descended, pushing and 
dragging me along with them, until we had reached 
one of the deepest portions of the nest. Here they 
conducted me into a vaulted chamber which I recog- 
nized immediately as the room of the living honey 
jars. Hanging to the ceiling like clusters of round 
berries wei'e the distended bodies of the repletes who 
provided the receptacles for storing the colony’s reserve 
food supply. 

Then, for the first time, the signficance of my sur- 
prising reception came over me. Because of my 
thoughtless diligence in collecting a superabundance of 
honey dew, I had stretched my abdomen until I was al- 
most as large as one of the repletes. Noticing this, 
the guardians of the nest had forthwith elected me to 
spend the rest of my life hanging to the ceiling of this 
underground chamber! 

At first I became panicky. I struggled and tried to 
get av'ay. It was no use, however. My captors were 
too numerous and too strong for me. After restrain- 
ing me gently for a while, they began to get rough. 
One , of them even gave me a painful nip with her 
pincers. I then decided that the wisest plan was to 
submit for the time being, depending on my resource- 
fulness to find some way to escape later. 

It occurred to me that everything had happened for 
the best after all. How could I understand the ant 
nature until I had shared in all their experiences? 
The life of a replete was as typical of the ant people 
as any other vocation. I resolved, therefore, to spend 
at least a day among these living flagons to see what 
their existence was like. 

Without knowing it, I was like a white man who, 
attracted by the care-free life of a South Sea Islander, 
tasted the lotus of forgetfulness and “went native.” 

To the educated human being there would be some- 
thing revolting — almost terrifying — about the thought 
of being forced to pass one’s entire existence hanging 
to the roof of an underground cavern. But, singular 
as it may appear, I found the life of a replete anything 
but disagreeable. On the contrary, it was so enjoyable 
that I wanted to do nothing else but remain there. 
None of my companions seemed at all dissatisfied. 
From the interchanges of thoughts which I had with 
the others as we hung there side by side, I gathered 
that they all felt as if they were very highly honored. 
In some ways we were even better off than the Queen. 
Like her we were protected against harm by being 
kept in a carefully guarded portion of the city. We 
were also constantly being brushed and licked and 
stroked and petted and kissed by our solicitous sisters 
who looked after us with the most tender care. 

But most wonderful of all, we repeatedly experienced 
the ecstacies of regurgitation. Since our work was 
confined entirely to receiving food from those who 
had plenty and subsequently giving it up, drop after 
drop, to those who were hungry, we enjoyed the pleas- 



ures of regurgitation and all the petting and kissing 
that went with it ever so much more often than any 
of our less favored sisters did. 

After a few hours of this delectable occupation, my 
ant nature nearly got the better of me. I had tasted 
the lotus. I had gone native. I had almost lost my 
white man’s heritage. 

It is hard for me to describe the terrific mental 
struggle I went through before that tiny speck of 
human consciousness within my insect head gained 
control over the submissive, dutiful instincts that were 
deeply rooted in my ant-body. At last, however, my 
man-will conquered and I began to plan my escape. 

The task which now confronted me was the hardest 
one I have ever encountered. Sneaking out in my 
present condition was absolutely out of the question. 
I tried it once but I had hardly dropped to the floor 
of the cavern before three of the workers came run- 
ning to me. With the utmost tenderness, they brushed 
me and licked my body and stroked my head. Then 
they proceeded to ci'awl up the wall, dragging me 
with them until they had put me back in my original 
position. 

Then I realized that my only hope was to disgorge 
the contents of my crop so that my body would return 
to its natural size. It was absolutely imperative for 
me to reduce and to regain my former sylphlike figure. 
I tackled this job with the desperate earnestness of 
a Hollywood star who has been told that she must lose 
ten pounds or have her contract canceled. For me to 
reduce myself back to normalcy was by no means as 
easy as it may sound. No matter how hard I tried I 
couldn’t get rid of more than one tiny droplet at a time 
and there wex'e many drops in my social stomach. I 
soon learned to distinguish between what I called the 
“put ants” and the “take ants.” Since I was still able 
to move about to a certain extent while the other re- 
pletes remained motionless, it was possible for me to 
gain the attention of the ants who were looking for 
food and to get away from some of those who were 
trying to fill me up with more honey dew. 

The most difficult part of this game was to foil the 
“put ants.” Because I was the smallest replete in the 
suspended bunch they invariably made for me first. 
I used all sorts of schemes to avoid them. First I 
clung to one of the other honey jars, hoping to camou- 
flage myself as a part of her huge body. Sometimes 
this worked and sometimes it didn’t. When the for- 
ager detected my trick and insisted on forcing more 
honey dew into my body, I tried to crawl away. In- 
variably she followed me, urging me with stubborn 
persistence to accept the food she was offering me. 
Then I would pretend to be so dumb that I didn’t un- 
derstand what she wanted me for. This seemed to be 
the most effective plan of all. Most of the workers 
gave me up in disgust and unloaded their burdens of 
food into more willing receptacles. 

By spending two or three days in dodging “put 
ants” and serving “take ants” I managed to reduce 
my shape to about one-half its exaggerated size. Pick- 
ing a time when the lowered temperature of our home 
indicated that most of my nestmates would be enjoy- 
ing their nocturnal rest, I dropped to the floor of the 
chamber. I quicky disgorged drop after drop of the 
honey dew still remaining in my crop, getting rid of 
it by rubbing my spongy tongue against the walls of 
the chamber. Luckily, the two guards who were al- 
ways on duty outside the cave of the repletes were 
dozing, and I got past them without any difficulty. 

Breaking into a brisk trot, I hurried onward and 
upward. I passed several ants on the way, but they 
seemed too sleepy to pay any attention to me. But as 
I came out into the main highway I got the scare of 




THE ANT WITH A HUMAN SOUL 



263 



my life. Whom should I run into but Miss Sherlocka 
Holmes, 

She recognized me immediately, of course, and ac- 
costed me. Then followed an animated conversation 
carried on in the ant language of gestures and taps. 
Here is a free translation : 

“Hello, there!” Sherlocka greeted me. “What in the 
world are you doing out here. You are a honey jar 
now. Don’t you know that it is absolutely against the 
law for a honey jar to leave the storage chamber?” 

“S-s-s-h-h-h !” I responded in the most mysterious 
manner I could assume. “There’s been dirty work 
going on at the cross-roads. I found out that some 
outsiders have been stealing honey dew from our re- 
pletes. Can you imagine the nerve of the scalawags! 
In order to catch them, I disguised myself as a honey 
jar and spied on them. That’s why you thought I was 
one of the repletes. And I found out plenty, believe 
me!” 

I had Sherlocka’s undivided interest after that. She 
forgot all about her duty which bade her force me 
back to the storage chamber. 

“Gosh! That must have been thrilling!” she gestic- 
ulated. “Did you catch the robbers?” 

“I haven’t caught them yet, but I’m on their trail! 
Believe me, I’m on their trail !” 

“Let me help you!” was her eager rejoinder. 

“Sorry, Sister, but I’m afraid that won’t do. You 
see, this is a one-ant job. My only chance of running 
these babies down is to go it strictly on my own. But 
I must be on my way or I may lose track of them. 
Toodle-oo, my dear!” And I scampered off, leaving 
her standing there with her mouth wide open. 

I realized that the most perilous part of my at- 
tempted jailbreak would be at the portal of the nest. 
Here I knew there were always several guards on 
duty who never relaxed their vigilance. The first idea 
that popped into my head was to make a wild dash for 
the exit, depending on the advantage of surprise to 
carry me through. On reflection, however, I concluded 
that such an attempt to crash the gate from the inside 
would be too risky. In case the opening happened 
to be blocked by the bodies of the gate keepers, as was 
usually the case, I would only betray myself if I dashed 
madly among them. 

The plan which I finally adopted was to hide in one 
of the nurseries close to the main entrance until dawn. 
I waited until the first of the ants began to file out 
of the nest on their way to the Aphid pastures. As 
unobtrusively as possible, I joined in the procession. 

My clever attempt to deceive the guards didn’t work, 
however. They were extremely efficient, those vigilant 
gatekeepers of ours. It was their duty not only to 
keep aliens out of the nest, but also to prevent the 
escape of all those who were supposed to stay inside. 
I have known several doormen of exclusive clubs, who 
had memories for names, faces and occupations that 
were almost inconceivable, but none of them could 
compare with the doorwomen of our Ant Organization. 

Though there were many thousands of members in 
our ant club, the gate keepers seemed to know inti- 
mately the identity and occupation of every individual. 
They recognized me instantly, in spite of my drastic 
campaign of reducing. At the same time, the trans- 
formation in my appearance seemed to puzzle them. 
They gathered around me, examining me with their 
antenna and conversed with each other excitedly. 

“It’s now or never!” thought I. 

Like a football player I ploughed through the line 
of guards, straight-arming them with my forelegs and 
scattering them to the right and left. Luck was with 
me. I was out in the open before the astonished ants 
could recover themselves. Instinctively I ran with 



the vrind and dodged under the first stone I could find. 
By the time the doorkeepers had reached the opening 
they could neither see nor smell me. 

With my body quivering from my strenuous exer- 
tions I lay motionless under the stone until I had re- 
covered my strength. Then I crawled out and recon- 
noitered. I soon found a spot of bare earth fairly 
close to the nest but at some distance away from the 
path which the cowpunchers followed on the way to 
their herds. 

Here I waited for what seemed like centuries. It 
couldn’t have been more than a few hours, however, 
for the shadows of the grass blades had shortened only 
slightly when I felt the welcome clasp of Doctor De 
Villa’s tweezers pressing against my sides. According 
to the prearranged signal, he lifted me up and then 
placed me on the ground again. Needless to say, I 
remained perfectly motionless. The next thing I 
knew I was on my way back to the laboratory. 

CHAPTER XIV 

Back to the World of Men 

T he newspapers of Southern California had 
printed an enormous amount of publicity con- 
cerning my disappearance. Naturally, my reap- 
pearance created a huge sensation. For several days 
I was beseiged by reporters, sob sisters and feature 
writers. But, since Doctor De Villa had asked me 
not to divulge any of his secrets, I could not give the 
newspapers a particle of information. 

They used every means they could think of, includ- 
ing the third degree, to wring a statement out of me, 
but I kept my own counsel. One of the most persistent 
of the newspaper chaps appealed to me in this wise: 
“It’s your duty to tell us what happened. Our pub- 
lic — the thousands of American citizens who read our 
paper — demand an explanation of your conduct, and 
they are entitled to enlightenment.” 

“Very well, then,” I pretended to agree. “Tell our 
public that I was kidnaped by a man named Steve, who 
was assisted by a woman named Rose. During the 
last three weeks they kept me imprisoned in a shack 
just across the border in Mexico. Finally I made my 
escape, found my way back to San Diego and here 
I am.” 

I said this so solemnly and so seriously that for a 
moment I had the reporter guessing. 

He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and 
said, “Say, listen, young fellow, are you trying to 
kid me?” 

“Certainly not, sir. I know better than to try to 
kid a smart newspaper man like you.” 

“Oh, yeah?” he retorted. “Well, if you’ve got to 
lie about it, why don’t you think up a lie that’s 
original?” 

Until I completed this manuscript there was only 
one person to whom I related my true story. That per- 
son was Alice Hill. When she found out I was still 
alive she really seemed glad. 

“There’s been a tremendous change in you, Ken- 
neth,” she told me. “And if you don’t mind my saying 
so, the change has been very much for the better. I’m 
so glad that you have relinquished all those terrible 
ideas about Atheism and things like that.” 

“And are you sure you like me a little bit now?” 
“Of course I do. I always did like you, even when 
you talked in such a horrid way. But you’re nicer 
now — lots nicer, and I’m glad.” 

“If that’s the case, will you start wearing my frat 
pin again?” 

^Continued on page 279) 




‘Water -^ound World 

By Harl Vincent 

Author of Venus Liberated f’ “Once in a Blue Moon,” etc. 



/ N our present state of political corruption, it would seem a relief to go off to 
some other planet and colonize anew — providing, of course, that the chosen 
planet was not already inhabited by intelligent beings much further advanced 
than we are. But, in this short scientifiction gem of interplanetary travel, Mr. 
Vincent sounds another ^earning — corruption, too, can travel and perhaps be joined 
with peers of a vastly stronger menace, and uniquely strange — as witness what 
the travelers in this storv meet with en route to Saturn. 



Illustrated by MOREY 



CHAPTER I 

Capture 

W ITH ever decreasing velocity the ethership 
Mercurianic circled Japetus, Saturn’s eighth 
satellite. At each convolution she drew 
nearer to the ominously tossing clouds 
which enveloped the body. The great 
vessel’s rocket tubes gave forth no sound, 

A tense silence pervaded the navigating cabin. 
Through the thick glass of the forward port Captain 
Jornas Boe gazed fixedly at the sunlit billows beneath 
them. Ridge Color, the pilot, was a rigid hunched 
figure at the control keyboard. 

“What altitude, Mr. Coler?” the captain asked. 
“Fifty-two thousand. Sir.” Ridge straightened his 
slim lithe body and turned expectant eyes on his su- 
perior. 

Captain Boe stepped wearily to the optophone and 
flipped its lever. The alert but unsmiling visage of the 
Venerian chief engineer flashed into view on the disc. 

“Let me have the concentrate quantities, Mr. Nad.” 
The captain’s voice was mild, but a careful observer 
might have detected in it a strained quality of inflec- 
tion and would certainly have noted the cool arrogance 
on the face pictured in the disc. 

“Tank number three is half full. Sir,” — ^with a queer 
mixture of insolence and respect, “And there’s eight 
hundred pounds in number one. Do we make the land- 
ing?” 

“We do not. We’ll proceed with the work as we’ve 
started, if it takes us a terrestrial month.” 

The black brows of the chief engineer drew together 
ever so slightly and a curiously chill smile twisted his 
thin lips. “It can’t be done. Sir,” he protested, “My 
men are exhausted; unruly. We — ” 

“Enough !” Captain Boe’s words snapped out like the 



lash of a whip. “We proceed as I have commanded.” 
He shoved back the optophone lever with an angry 
gesture and the disc went blank. “We’ll return t® 
one hundred thousand feet, Mr. Coler,” he told Ridge 
calmly. 

“Ay, Sir.” The pilot depressed a group of keys and 
the vessel throbbed smoothly to the reaction of a series 
of staccato blasts from the keel rocket tubes. The 
tossing cloud surface fell rapidly away. 

The stillness again became oppressive when the cap- 
tain bowed his iron-gray head anxiously over the celes- 
tial chart. 

Ridge Coler was appreciative of the dilemma faced 
by the captain. To make a landing on the satellite 
Japetus was strictly prohibited by the Interplanetary 
Commerce Commission. The body w’as ringed in red 
on the charts; no scouting vessel of the inner planets 
had been able to reach its reputedly dangerous surface. 
Loss of his papers and probable exile awaited that 
master of a passenger-carrying ethership who landed 
his vessel in defiance of the Commission’s ruling. 

But the Mercurianic was in trouble, having run afoul 
of a tiny planetoid or meteorite the day before. Her fuel 
tanks had been punctured, causing the leakage of most 
of the concentrated liquid explosive into the vacuum 
of space. With insufficient fuel to carry her the re- 
maining distance of her journey from Earth to Saturn, 
she had been eased into the atmosphere of the nearest 
body — the forbidden satellite — where nitrogen and 
other elements needed in replenishing the supply of 
fuel were being extracted from the thin outer air. 

It was slow and arduous work for the engineers, 
since the fuel consumed hourly by the heating and 
oxygen apparatus, plus the amount used by the rocket 
tubes in maintaining their altitude, was almost as great 
a quantity as could be manufactured during the same 
period of time. Zarko Nad, iron-fisted chief of the 
engine rooms, claimed his men were objecting. And, 



264 




266 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



hourly, his insistence that they land on Japetus became 
more vigorous. 

Privately, Ridge looked with longing eyes at the mist- 
shrouded satellite. Here waited mystery, adventure. 
The old urge was strong upon him; this prosaic job of 
piloting was growing irksome, and he was itching to 
try his hand at setting the big liner down on the sur- 
face of this body which was declared impossible of safe 
approach. 

But of course there were the passengers. And the 
captain’s strict accountability; his sworn duty and the 
duty of his subordinates. It was out of the question 
that any course other than the present one be followed. 

Captain Boe turned a haggard face toward his pilot. 
“I've been thinking of the possible depth of this cloud 
layer,” he muttered, as if thinking aloud. “There is no 
record you know of, Mr. Coler?” 

“Only that of Vorn Jare, of the Martian Patrol. He 
was within a mile of the surface in 2114 — ” 

“Yes, I remember. And still he found himself in the 
dense vapor. It is no wonder that landing is prohibited, 
and yet — ” 

“You’re thinking of attempting it, Sir?” Ridge’s ex- 
clamation was fraught with excitement. 

“Certainly not, my boy. But sometimes — er — even- 
tualities, you know. Oh, what in the devil am I talking 
about?” The captain turned abruptly to view once 
more the tortured cloud covering of Japetus. 

Ridge stared in astonishment at the erect stocky 
figure. He was keenly aware of the captain’s concern; 
he knew of the restlessness of the passengers and of 
the mutterings in the crew’s quarters. But that the 
captain was dubious of the outcome, he had no sus- 
picion. In the dark days to come. Ridge was to remem- 
ber his words — and his courage. 

A heavy step sounded behind him and Ridge turned 
to stare into the faintly smiling countenance of the 
chief engineer. Zarko Nad’s huge bulk filled the door- 
way as he stood for a moment coolly surveying the scene 
in the navigating cabin. Then he was advancing on 
the captain, catlike in his movements. 

“Boe,” he rumbled, “Know how much we gained in 
the past hour?” 

“Mr. Boe, if you please,” the captain purred. But 
it was the purr of a tiger; Ridge saw the swelling of 
the veins at his temples and the tensing of the great 
chest muscles beneath his snug purple jacket. 

“Ay — mister Boe,” Zarko drawled with infuriating 
calm. “The gain was less than two hundred pounds. Of 
the seven hundred pounds of concentrate we manufac- 
tured, you used more than five to gain altitude. It is 
impossible, what you are trying to do — we’ve got to 
land.” 

“Rot!” There was no equivocation in the captain’s 
clipped words. “Now, you listen to me: I know your 
men are growling — they’re working on a long job. But 
work is what they’re paid for, what you’re paid for. 
Little though it may be, we’re gaining — you admit it. 
And there’s such a thing as duty, such a thing as law. 
The same law that forbids landing on this satellite 
makes me Master of this vessel, and Master I intend to 
remain. We do not land; we work. Get it?” 

Ridge Coler drew in a sharp breath. Zarko’s huge 
shoulders had hunched threateningly. There was a 
convulsive clenching of his great hamlike paws and he 
thrust a foot forward, lowering his head. The young 
pilot half rose from his seat. But Captain Boe’s gaze, 
flinty and unswerving, held the determination of a man 
who would hold to his guns in the face of all argument 
— of a man conscious of his mastery. 

The big Venerian subsided, but his voice was brittle 
as he asked, “Is this your final word. Sir?” 

“It is.” 



Without further speech, but with flashing eyes that 
spoke volumes, Zarko Nad turned on his heel and van- 
ished into the tubular passageway that led aft. 

“I’m with you. Sir, if there’s trouble,” blurted Ridge. 
‘Thank you.” The captain’s gaze locked with the 
pilot’s for a long, understanding moment. Then he 
smiled enigmatically and turned once more to his con- 
templation of the chart. 

Ridge hunched low in the pilot’s seat, his long legs 
raised and muscular arms enwrapping his knees. It 
was a habit of his when disturbing thoughts engrossed 
him, and he sat thus contorted for a long time. In his 
imagination he was dropping the Mercurianie safely 
through the cloud envelope, searching barren crags and 
arid plains for signs of habitation. Fanciful concep- 
tions . . . impossible. . . . 

They were again nearing the outer reaches of the 
misty shroud when the booming of the ship’s bell an- 
nounced the coming of the relief pilot. Untangling 
his jumbled limbs. Ridge gave over the controls and 
went aft, 

K AL TURJEN,the deep-chested coppery-skinned Mar- 
tian who was his friend and cabin mate, awaited 
him in the small cubicle they shared. 

It was unusual that so great a friendship arise be- 
tween Terrestrial and Martian as had come to these 
two. But Ridge, as a young lad, had been taken to 
Mars by his parents; his father had been one of the 
first American business men to settle there. Those were 
difficult days for alien youngsters on the red planet, and 
Kal, a trifle his senior, had taken Ridge under his 
wing and defended him throughout the trying initial 
period of Martian schooling, later joining him as 
partner in many youthful exploits and conquests. As 
adolescents, they remained fast friends; as men they 
had wandered together over most of the solar system 
in search of adventure. They were inseparable now. 

Kal’s black eyes squinted up at his friend through 
the curling smoke of the cigaret that adhered per- 
petually to his lower lip. “Any news?” he inquired. 

“Zarka was up forward, arguing with the captain.” 
Ridge stripped off his shirt and made for the soap and 
hot water. 

Exhaling noisily, Kal watched solemnly the weaving 
of the muscles under the smooth skin of his friend’s 
broad back. Then: “He’s been stirring up things be- 
tween decks, as well,” he muttered, in English. 

Ridge looked up from the wash bowl, surprised. 
Ordinarily they conversed in Sol-ido, the universal 
language of interplanetary travelers. “Think it means 
trouble?” he asked, likewise switching to his own 
mother tongue and lowering his voice. 

“I’m sure of it. Zarko’s been whispering amongst 
the crew all this watch. Lot of new men this trip, too 
—seems he knows ’em all.” 

“What kind of men? How many?” The young pilot 
dried his unruly thatch of red hair with savage swab- 
bings of the towel. 

Kal Turjen growled. “Imps of the canals! Every 
Martian below decks is with him ; these cursed dryland- 
ers are ever mixed up in such devilment. And there’s 
Rete Dovis, Nad’s Venerian assistant. And a few 
roughneck Terrestrials. Probably thirty of them, all 
told.” 

Ridge whistled. “In other words, nearly every man 
Jack of the crew. Excepting only the upper-deck offi- 
cers and — ourselves.” 

“Right.” Kal lighted a fresh cigaret from the half- 
inch butt of the last, smiling grimly the while. “Seems 
like we’re in for some of this excitement you’ve been 
yelling for.” , 

Ridge’s gray eyes were solemn and he vouchsafed 




WATER.BOUND WORLD 



267 



no reply as he wriggled vigorously into a clean shirt. 

The big Martian was booked as radiophone operator, 
and his duties were anything but arduous on a vessel 
whose transmitters were limited in range to million 
miles. Almost criminal, this niggardly economy of the 
owners; the Mercurianic v/ould be able to summon help 
if only they might span the two and a quarter million 
miles to Saturn. Kal was contemptuous of the obsolete 
equipment, but at least there had been plenty of time 
to nose around down below. He had seen and heard 
many things which convinced him all was not well in the 
domain of Zarko. 

As if to conform his suspicions, a muffled shriek came 
to their ears, seemingly from the passenger compart- 
ment. A babel of shouting; swift shufflings of heavy 
boots in the passage. 

“They’re at it already!” he gasped. 

“Come on!” Ridge bellowed. The American burst 
from the cabin, well kno%ving that his bronze-hued 
friend would be on his heels. 

A knot of grimy, sweating men swayed there by the 
bulkhead which separated the passenger compartment 
from the crew’s quarters. Ridge caught a glimpse of 
gold braid on a purple cap and of a white face beneath, 
from which bulging eyes stared. It was Marrin, the 
first mate. A knife rose flashing and fell, and Marrin 
went down in the tangle. Shouting and cursing, his 
assailants fled into the main cabin. 

Marrin was breathing his last when they reached 
him. “Zarko!” he gasped, “Gone forward , . . with his 
killers . . . the captain . . .” 

The mate was dead. Ridge looked up into the fierce 
black eyes of his friend. “Jupiter!— it’s worse than I 
thought. Kal, we must head them off — somehow.” 

They sprinted through the cabin, where little groups 
of hysterical passengers were gathered. A steward lay 
there, sprawled on the deck with a Martian karee knife 
projecting from his back. Two fidgetty and frightened 
old men were carrying the limp body of a moaning 
woman to one of the lounges. Scared faces peeped out 
from stateroom doors. Hoarse shouts could be heard 
beyond the forward bulkhead. 

“^"T^HROUGH the promenade!” Kal panted, “It’s 

A quicker.” 

They ducked out to the deck of the many glazed 
ports, where normally passengers would be viewing 
the heavens. The place was deserted, and only swirl- 
ing gray vapors showed through the thick glass. 

“Too late!” groaned Ridge, “Zarko’s done it; he’s 
diving through.” 

Swiftly they moved toward the forward communicat- 
ing door. But a sudden influx of frenzied passengers 
cut them off. Rete Dovis, with three squat and twisted 
drylanders of the red planet, were herding them in like 
cattle. 

The mutineers were armed with flame projectors and 
the ugly karee knives. Kal and Ridge had only their 
bare fists. Resistance would avail them nothing. Sud- 
denly Ridge knew that the thing had been planned 
for months; small arms were not allowed on board and 
could only have been smuggled in over a long period of 
time. 

“Ho!” yelped Zarko’s lieutenant when he spied them, 
“It is here you are! You will at once report in the 
navigating room, you two.” Leaving his ugly cronies 
in charge of the passengers, he waved them forward 
with the stubby nose of his flame pistol. 

“Filthy swine!” Kal snarled, in his own tongue. 

“Easy now. We’ve no chance — yet.” Ridge shoved 
his impetuous friend aside and faced Rete Dovis. “You 
mean we report to Zarko?” he asked. 

Ridge was sparring for time. He had an eye on that 



flame pistol and was calculating his chances of obtain- 
ing it. But the Venerian was wary; he kept at a dis- 
tance of ten feet or more, so there was no possibility of 
any quick footwork on the part of the athletic American. 

“You know I mean that. And I go with you. Look 
alive!” 

This Dovis was taking no chances. He urged them 
forward, bringing up the rear with the white flame 
that lurked in his weapon ready to leap forth if they 
turned on him. 

His companions were questioning and searching the 
passenger's. A woman’s terrified scream was cut short 
by the sound of a brutal blow. Ridge compressed his 
lips and his nails dug into his closed palms. His mind 
refused to picture what was to be the fate of those 
fifty-odd passengers. Lucky there were no more. 

In the navigating cabin they found things much as 
they had feared they would. The captain’s body was 
a grotesque heap beneath the viewing port, a karee 
buried to the hilt in his broad back. Weapons of 
stealthy murders, these karees; silent and sure when 
flung by a practised hand — from behind. 

Zarko stood over Tommy Reynolds, the relief pilot, 
who was wilting at the controls. Tommy’s face was 
battered and bloody; his left arm dangled limp and 
useless. He was about to collapse. Behind Zarko was 
a ferret-eyed stranger, a slinky individual at sight of 
whom Ridge instinctively bristled. He was one of the 
passengers — a supporter of the mutineers! 

The yellow eyes of Zarko narrowed speculatively 
when they rested on the captives of Rete Dovis. “You 
fellows ready to throw in with us?” he demanded. 

Kal Turjen opened his mouth to voice his wrath, 
then snapped it shut. Ridge had clamped warning 
fingers on his arms. 

“What else is there to do?” the pilot countered. His 
tone was careless, and he shrugged his shoulders. 

Zarko eyed the Martian keenly. Then, returning his 
gaze to Ridge, he grinned broadly. “Good enough,” he 
rumbled, “Ah — you’d rather like to make this landing 
on Japetus, wouldn’t you now. Color?” 

Ridge felt the hot blood mount to his temples. “I — 
I would,” he was forced to admit. 

“I thought so,” Zarko chuckled triumphantly. Then 
he rattled off his orders: “You will relieve Reynolds 
so he can report to the doctor. And you, Turjan, will 
take your instruction from Mr. Dovis, the engineer.” 

Ridge transfixed his Martian friend with a meaning 
stare. He was fearful of Kal’s quick temper; it would 
be suicide were he to resist them now. Relieved, he 
caught the answering gleam of the big fellow’s eyes. 
Separated or together, they would bide their time. 

CHAPTER II 
The Forbidden Satellite 

“TT TE’VE — ah — enough fuel for the landing,” Zarko 

y y remarked when Ridge had taken the controls. 

Kal had gone aft with Dovis, and Reynolds 
had staggered out on the arm of the sinister stranger, 
leaving a trail of blood. They had done for poor 
Tommy. 

“If we can make it. It’s reported as impossible, you 
know.” A glance at the instruments told Ridge they 
were at thirty thousand feet and losing altitude rapidly. 

“Bah! I’ve done it — so have others,” 

“What?” 

The swarthy Venerian grinned at Ridge’s amazement. 
“Fact,” he gloated. “The Commerce Commission doesn’t 
know everything, I’ve been here before. Friends await 
me even now — ah — down there. And it's perfectly safe 
—a water landing.” 




268 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Water!” 

“Sure! listen — I’ll let you in on this. You act like a 
pretty smart Terrestrial. Knowing what’s good for 
you, you’ll want to be in on it. There’s no land on the 
surface of Japetus, only water, but a vast treasure is 
there, for all that. And a civilization. Things that will 
interest you. Won’t they?” 

Cold calculation was in Zarko’s yellow eyes, but a 
hint of anxiety as well. Ridge puzzled. Why was the 
Venerian trusting him; why did he tell him these 
things? The explanation came in a flash — walking 
through the galley on their way forward with Dovis, 
they had seen a dead Martian. Undoubtedly he had 
been the pilot among the mutineers, posing as a me- 
chanic. 'They hadn’t counted on losing any of their 
number in the surprise attack, especially one so im- 
portant. And now, with Reynolds out of the picture as 
well, they needed a pilot — it was imperative that Zarko 
win Ridge over, and he was using the bait he thought 
most effective. When they had landed he might change 
his tune. 

“You bet I’m interested,” Ridge enthused. 

“Good enough. You’ll learn more later.” 

The ferret-eyed passenger, who had gone out with 
Reynolds, slipped in stealthily. “Dead,” Ridge heard 
him whisper in Zarko’s ear. 

They drew away from the control panel and engaged 
in low-voiced conversation that was not for the pilot’s 
ears. 

Amazed beyond measure. Ridge tried to fit together 
the pieces of the puzzle. He was sure now there had 
been no meteorite. Zarko had contrived the appearance 
of an accident; it was a part of his scheme. Probably 
he’d sent one of his henchmen through the airlock in 
a space suit to damage the outer plates. Perhaps even, 
there was not the shortage of fuel he had reported. 

He had believed he could thus trick Captain Boe into 
landing the vessel on the forbidden satellite. That 
would have simplified matters, but the plan had failed 
and it became necessary to murder the officers and take 
over the vessel in advance of the expected time. 

Who was this saturnine stranger in the garb of a 
passenger? Had he aligned himself with Zarko since 
the mutiny, or was he a henchman of the Venerian 
planted amongst the passengers at the start of the 
voyage? What was to become of the passengers? 
Surely they were of no value to Zarko as individuals — > 
more than half were women. Ridge shuddered. 

On this supposed watery surface of Japetus, what 
manner of inhabitants might they find ? Aquatic surely 
— but intelligent? Despite his misgivings and his hor- 
ror at the thing Zarko had done. Ridge could not but 
thrill to the prospect of landing and of learning these 
things for himself. 

They had dropped to six thousand feet when Zarko 
sauntered back to the control panel. And the dense 
gray mists still eddied about them. 

The Venerian laid a huge clammy paw on the pilot’s 
jbare forearm. Though his flesh squirmed at the con- 
tact, Ridge maintained his nonchalant air of ex- 
pectancy. 

“You’ll do,” said Zarko, “as long as you behave. 
Nothing can be promised, understand. But the treasure 
> — a share may be yours if you serve us well. That 
clear?” 

“Quite.” Ridge untangled his long legs and straight- 
ened up with well-simulated avidity. “The treasure — ” 

The eyes of Zarko glittered and his barrel-like chest 
expanded. “Ah — ^the treasure. Immense! The wealth 
of a world is here for the taking. And there’s no 
reason — ” 

But Ridge had ceased listening. Suddenly the clouds 
opened up beneath them and he was looking down upon 



a vast expanse of tossing waters. Inky black, those bil- 
lows, and threatening. Heaving mightily to engulf 
them. The altimeter showed less than a thousand feet. 

“Jupiter!” he barked, forgetting all else, “We’re 
here.” 

His fingers twinkled over the control keys and there 
was the sharp hoarse cough of the keel rocket tubes. 
The vessel shivered as she was brought up short in her 
rapid descent. Then, with only the repelling energy 
of the gravity flux retarding her fall, she settled to 
the surface and lay pitching heavily in the pounding 
sea. 

“Good enough,” Zarko lauded. 

D uring the next few minutes Ridge Coler was far 
too busy to give much heed to what was going on 
in the navigating cabin. The Mereurianic was no sub- 
marine, nor was she designed for surface travel in the 
strange element in which she had landed. But her 
vacuum-tight hull was of enormous strength, and the 
gravity energy ordinarily used when taking off from 
solid ground and in landing was as well capable of 
increasing her weight as is the water ballast employed 
in submarine craft. After much maneuvering. Ridge 
was able to submerge the vessel sufficiently to stabilize 
her against the battering of the huge waves and to 
restore an even keel. But they were lost in the trackless 
seas. 

He turned toward Zarko, but saw that he had en- 
gaged himself with the optophone. In the disc ap- 
peared the face of Kal Turjen, his usual cigaret dang- 
ling and eyes squinting through the smoke. The Mar- 
tian was grinning cheerfully as he followed Zarko’s 
instructions in tuning the main radiophone transmitter. 
Kal was on the job in the radio room and was resigned 
to the situation. 

But a more amazing sight was closer by; a girl who 
had come into the navigating cabin. When first Ridge 
saw her it was as if Zarko and the others did not exist. 
The sharp commands of Zarko and the optophone re- 
plies of Kal were mere unintelligible mutterings in his 
ears. They mattered not at all; nothing mattered but 
the girl. 

Although attired in the snug-trousered, loose-bloused 
costume of a Terrestrial space traveler, she was like no 
girl Ridge had ever seen in any of the worlds he had 
visited. And she clung there, hugging the arm of the 
ferret-eyed one who was so closely in the confidence of 
Zarko. Ridge gritted his teeth savagely. 

She, too, had been one of the passengers. Ridge bit- 
terly regretted that he had not availed himself of the 
pilot’s privilege of dining at the captain’s table. He’d 
have met her then. 

He could not tear his gaze from the vision. Although 
she was only slightly above medium height, hers was a 
figure to command instant attention. Straight, youth- 
ful, and superbly moulded, she was a perfect specimen 
of vigorous young womanhood, yet intensely feminine 
withal. Her closely cropped hair was of that inde- 
scrible hue neither light nor dark yet glinting with a 
dazzling golden sheen. In the creamy oval of her face 
was set a pair of violet eyes which — well. Ridge detested 
her companion the more cordially when she looked into 
the smirking face that was so close to her own. 

“Jerry,” she was saying in mellow throaty tones, “I 
want to be near you through all this. I insist. Re- 
member your promise.” 

“Yes, Rita — I’ll remember.” But the man’s shifty 
gaze was not to be held by the frankly appealing one of 
the girl. He was nervous and jumpy, a craven and 
debased schemer if ever there was one. Ridge mar- 
veled at the girl’s air of possession. Surely she was 
not — ' 




WATER-BOUND WORLD 



269 



“Coler!” Zarko’s voice broke in disagreeably on the 
pilot’s absorption. “You will take to the air at once. 
Proceed in a north-easterly direction for eight hundred 
miles.” 

The disc of the optophone vras blank. Kal had suc- 
ceeded in making the necessary contact with Zarko’s 
friends by radio. Coolly ignoring the girl’s presence and 
that of the man, Jerry, the Venerian, strode to the 
pilot’s side. 

“How about the fuel?” Ridge asked him. He had 
thrown full power into the gravity neutralizing coils 
and the vessel throbbed mightily to the roar of the 
motors. 

“Don’t fret yourself over the fuel. We’ve plenty.” 
Zarko’s voice was sardonic; he had completely fooled 
Captain Boe. His gaze followed Jei’ry and the girl 
when they left the navigating cabin. 

None of these things were lost on Ridge as he 
lightened the ship until they were riding high on the 
angry seas. The Mercurianic groaned and creaked in 
every plate as she was buffeted by thousands of tons 
of water. And then they were free of the savage fury, 
drifting at a few hundred feet above the highest up- 
flung billows. 

“Sneaking whelp!” rasped Zarko. 

“Who?” Ridge was startled into the question by the 
yenerian’s ferocity. 

“Jerry Simonds. Meanest kind of a crook. A go- 
between. But there’s no doing without him in this. 
He’s the fixer.” 

“Fixer!” Ridge was more mystified than ever. 

“Sure; he arranges with the authorities. Converts 
the stuff to cash, and grabs off half the loot.” Zarko 
subsided. He had said too much already. 

Here was a situation. The pot calling the kettle 
black. Hate and suspicion in Zarko’s ranks. Double 
dealing, perhaps. Anything might develop under such 
circumstances. Honor among thieves? Ridge sup- 
pressed a chuckle. 

“And the girl?” he queried, after a moment of silence. 

“His sister. Rita’s worth ten of Jerry, but she’s in 
the way now. Don’t know why he let her come along. 
It’s no place for women.” 

Ridge cheered unaccountably at knowledge of the 
relationship. A crook she might be, but this altogether 
desirable creature was tied to the unspeakable Jerry 
by blood only. 

W ITH the inky waters beneath them and the low- 
lying clouds above, the Mercurianic hovered in 
the gloom. The inductor compass functioned smoothly, 
proving that Japetus was possessed of a magnetic field 
as are the planets. With short blasts from the steer- 
ing rockets, Ridge swung the ship around until she 
headed due northeast. Then, with a mighty roaring of 
her stern tubes, she hurtled screaming through the 
twilight. 

The navigating cabin became oppressively warm due 
to the heating of the hull plates by friction in the dense 
and saturated atmosphere near the surface of the water- 
bound satellite. It was necessary to limit the speed to 
six hundred miles an hour. 

It was not an inviting prospect, that limitless ex- 
panse of ocean below. Nor the heavy clouds above that 
blotted out most of the light of the distant sun and 
sent down curling mist fingers to the very surface of 
the tumbling black waters. Ridge was depressed by 
the gloomy surroundings. 

And when the body of Jornes Boe was borne out by 
two of the surly Martians Zarko had summoned, his 
spirits sank still further. How confidently he had 
promised the captain to stand by him in case of trouble ; 
of what little use he had been to the dauntless skipper 



when the time came ! And now he was, in effect, align- 
ing himself with a band of thieves and murderers. In 
the eyes of the law, at least, he was as guilty as they. 

An hour passed. Occasional radio calls, relayed by 
Kal Turjen through the optophone system of the vessel, 
provided the only breaks in the monotony and brought 
information on which to correct their course. Without 
the directional radio of Zarko’s mysterious friends, they 
would be lost in the vastness of a world of water and 
rank vapors. 

“Here we are!” Zarko gloated at last, “Retard speed, 
Coler, and make ready to land.” 

Land! Ridge strained his eyes in the half-light as 
the forward rocket tubes belched violet flame. Yes, 
there was land — a circle of it a mile in diameter, with 
a central cone that rose high to form a crater of vol- 
canic aspect. Land, yes, but that of the ocean bed. 
Dry only by virtue of the enormous enclosing coffer- 
dam that rose up from the depths to hold back the 
dark waters. Obviously, here was entrance to the inner 
world of Japetus. 

Two etherships lay dimly outlined against the 
lighter gray of the bottom at the base of the cone. 
Small vessels of the scout type, but showing no topside 
markings, either planetary or national. Outlaws. 
Zarko’s advance guard — awaiting him there. 

The latticework of a huge cradle loomed alongside the 
cone, a newly constructed landing berth for a vessel of 
the Mercurianic’ s class. The pilot’s gloomy thoughts 
were forgotten when he dropped the ship into the wait- 
ing space. 

In the bustle of disembarking, Zarko seemed to for- 
get the existence of his new pilot. Ridge was left to 
his own resources and he hurried aft to his cabin. As 
he had expected, Kal Turjen was there before him. 

“Well?” the Martian challenged. 

“Well!” Ridge shrugged, grinning broadly at his 
friend’s owlish squint. “Looks like we’re pirates now, 
or some sort of bandits. Have any trouble?” 

“Not a bit. Dovis cottoned to me right away. Fact is, 
he made some rash promises. Mysterious about it, and 
cagey, but I overheard some of his talk with the crew. 
He’s plotting against Zarko.” 

“No!” The young pilot stared. Then he guffawed 
softly ; there was to be excitement a-plenty in the days 
to come. But a vision of Rita Simonds rose to sober 
him. “Come on, Kal,” he urged. “Let’s get out and 
have a look around.” 

Kal Turjen nodded solemnly, extending a hand in 
which a glittering object lay. It was a flame pistol, 
“Take this. You may need it,” he whispered. 

Ridge whistled incredulously. “Where’d you get it?” 
But the fee] of the cold metal was comforting in his 
fingers. 

“Hush! I robbed a corpse.” The squinting black 
eyes were inscrutable, but Ridge knew that already 
the Martian had scored. 

They made their way forward and out upon the land- 
ing stage where a scene of confusion met their eyes. 
In the great pit formed by the cofferdam was a horde 
of yelling bipeds. Averaging four feet in height, with 
bowed legs, their goggle eyes staring from faces of 
pallid green and bloated chests glistening with a me- 
tallic lustre, they were like nothing so much as the 
giant frogs in the swamplands of Venus. Yet these 
creatures were human — intelligent. 

The Mercurianic’s passengers were a huddled, fright- 
ened group down there, hemmed in by Zarko’s armed 
guards in the midst of the clamorous rabble. Zarko 
himself, a dominating figure in the assemblage, was 
bellowing orders to his men. Far above them was the 
rim of the cofferdam, the great hollow cylinder of 
masonry which held the ocean at bay. And the roar of 




270 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



the restless waters was a monotonous accompaniment of 
rhythmic sound. 

Ridge strained anxiously for a sight of Rita Simonds. 
But the girl was nowhere to be seen. Either she had 
not yet left the vessel or she was already inside the 
high arched doorway that opened into the volcanic cone. 
Where rosy light glowed from within, where 

A slight sound behind him caused Ridge to spin on 
his heel. He gazed directly into the crafty, sinister eyes 
of Jerry Simonds. In the dim light he made out a slen- 
der tube in the man’s hand, a tube that was leveled at 
his own head. On the instant of realization, Ridge 
sprang forward. But the hissing black gas fi'om the 
tube was quicker and the young pilot crumpled to the 
platform, strangling, clawing at his burning eyes. He 
heard the second hiss, Kal’s choking gasp. 

With senses reeling and eyes nearly sightless, he 
struggled to his knees. Kal Turjen, he saw, was down. 
Gasping invectives and striking out in his blindness. 
Ridge managed to close with Simonds. Gleefully in his 
semi-consciousness, he knew that the man’s knees had 
given way under the weight flung upon him. Yelling 
lustily for help, Simonds was, as the pilot’s fingers 
closed on his throat. 

CHAPTER III 
Cold Flame 

H azily, Ridge came to know that insistent hands 
were upon him. A frantic voice was in his ear, 
beseeching. Then, materializing out of nothing- 
ness as his vision cleared, he saw a glorious gold- 
crowned head. Violet eyes, horror-wide. Mechanically, 
his fingers loosed their clutching hold of yielding flesh 
and he staggered to his feet. Quick as a flash, the girl 
Rita was on her knees at her brother’s side, with 
anxious hands loosening his clothing, pillowing his head. 

Zarko Nad’s snarl came simultaneously with the ap- 
pearance of his huge bulk on the landing stage. 
“What’s this?” he demanded. 

Ridge could only stare foolishly. He was weak and 
dizzy from the gas, and his swollen tongue clove to 
his palate. 

But Zarko’s swift glances took in the situation at 
once and he pounced upon the slim tube of the black 
gas with a muttered curse. 

“Jerry!” he yelped, wheeling on the dazed Simonds. 

“I thought we agreed ” 

The girl had raised her brother to a sitting position 
from whence he looked up with dull, uncomprehending 
gaze. But it was not that which caused Zarko to 
break off in his tirade. A stronger man than he would 
liave quailed before the cold, scornful fury in the beau- 
tiful face of Rita Simonds. Like a young tigi*ess she 
crouched there facing them, ready to tear them asunder 
in defense of her own. 

Zarko stepped back a pace, mumbling. Kal Tui'jen 
was recovering from the effects of the gas and was on 
his feet, swaying. Fumbling shakily in his pockets, 
searching for the inevitable cigaret. Ridge would 
have wanted to laugh crazily at the tableau had it not 
been for the potency of those violet eyes. Wondering, 
he looked into their fire-flecked depths; saw them 
slowly soften, and the long lashes drop as a surge of 
warm color mantled the girl’s cheeks. 

“Come along, you fellows,” Zarko growled. 

Dazed anew — and differently — Ridge stumbled along 
after the big Venerjan down the steps from the land- 
ing stage. 

The crowds of frog men had thinned out and the 
passengers from the Mercurianic were no longer in 
sight. Only a few of Zarko’s henchmen remained out- 



side the arched entrance to the central cone of lava. 
“The swine !” Kal gulped. “Pity you didn’t kill him.” 
“Lucky he didn’t get us, you mean.” All thoughts 
of homicide had been erased from Ridge’s mind as if 
by magic. 

They had come in through the arched doorway and 
were bathed in the rosy artificial light of the interior. 
It was a huge cavern they had entered and intense 
activity of the frog men centered about a central shaft 
of transparent material. Within the shaft was a spi- 
rally descending runway, down which the creatures 
were scurrying as fast as their crooked legs could 
carry them, 

Zarko led them past this to a second, smaller shaft, 
where four of his crew were on guard. “Here,” he 
grunted. “We’ll go down this way. It’s more com- 
fortable.” 

A small car was poised in the transparent upper 
portion of the shaft, and they entered this with the big 
Venerian. With sickening speed it dropped into the 
depths. 

Ridge could contain himself no longer. “Look here, 
Zarko,” he blurted. “You’re not taking my friend and 
me in tow like this for the fun of it. Why are you 
doing it? Simonds would like us out of the way, but 
you seem to prefer it otherwise. I don’t get it.” 

The Venerian eyed him solemnly. “Coler,” he said, 
“this is a big haul we’re after here. So big that every 
man of this cutthroat gang of mine is itching to slip a 
karee between my ribs. Even Simonds. But you and 
Turjen are different. I — ah — I know your type. You’ll 
fight like the devil at the drop of a hat, but you’ll fight 
fair. And I want a couple of men like that around me.” 

“But, Zarko,” protested Ridge, “we can’t ” 

The Venerian showed his white teeth. “Oh, yes, you 
can. I’m cutting you in on this whether you like it or 
not. You can’t break loose. You’re tarred with the 
same brush as the rest of us already. And you’re ma- 
rooned here besides. If you want to get out alive you’ve 
got to stick. After we’ve returned to civilization you 
can — ah — use your own judgment.” 

Kal Turjen growled. “Imps of the canals, Zarko! 
You take much for granted.” 

“Sure — why not?” The yellow eyes narrowed to 
mere slits. “I don’t want any arguments either. This 
is my show, and I know what I’m doing. I’m not even 
asking any promises of you; I’m just telling you. If 
you want to be a pair of damn fools, go ahead. But if 
you’ve got the good sense I think you have, you’ll stick 
with me.” 

A hot retort sprang to the Martian’s lips. But the 
car of the lift swooped suddenly into a glare of blind- 
ing light and he stood blinking and speechless instead, 

B EFORE them extended a vast chamber where hun- 
dreds — yes, thousands — of the frog men were as- 
sembling. It was a huge natural cavern, arched high 
overhead, and with myriads of stalactites brilliantly 
illuminated by reflection from a circular pool of liquid 
light surrounding a central dais. On the dais, in a 
basket-like couch of yellow metal encrusted with scin- 
tillating gems, was the strangest creature of human- 
like mold they had ever seen. 

The body, encased in a webbing of what appeared to 
be metallic filaments, was shriveled and inert, a totally 
valueless and grotesque appendage to the enormous 
head that lay supported amid the cushions. A massive 
brain case with translucent yellow skin drawn tight 
over all. Hairless, and with features that consisted 
primarily of two great unblinking eyes. Once those 
eyes were observed, the rest was forgotten. The crea- 
ture was all brain, and awful, all-seeing eyes. 

“Bzor!” Zarko whispered. “The brain!” 




WATER-BOUND WORLD 



271 



The lift had brought them to a small balcony adjoin- 
ing the runway down which the frog men were troop- 
ing from above. They joined the throng and moved 
swiftly down to the rim of the pool of light. 

Blinded by the intense cold whiteness of the pool’s 
radiation, Ridge peered through a luminous haze and 
saw only the saucer orbs of Bzor. Staring fixedly, 
looking into his very soul. 

“Jupiter!” he gasped. “It’s the Old Boy himself!” 

Kal Turjen was silent, agape. 

And then a thin, piping voice came out of the lumi- 
nous mist. A voice that shrilled precise syllables in 
the ancient tongue of Yrldrun, the floating continent 
of Saturn. 

“Well done, oh Zarko,” it chirped. “As quickly as 
you instruct my engineers in the operation of the great 
ship of the heavens will the jewels be delivered.” 

Swift understanding came to Ridge Coler. Zarko 
had bargained for the treasure with this monster called 
Bzor. For a fortune in jewels he was delivering the 
Mercurianic into the hands of the frog men. For this 
he had done murder and worse. But 'why did these 
creatures of the water-bound world want a huge space 
liner? How ? 

Zarko was replying in solemn booming speech, and 
the eyes' looked out from the light-haze with expres- 
sionless intensity. They seemed detached and apart 
from all things resembling humanlike in the known 
universe, those Satanic orbs. Cold and unfeeling, yet 
possessed of uncanny intelligence and understanding. 

“Good enough, oh Bzor,” the Venerian was saying, 
“Even as the pact 'W’as sealed, so shall it be. After 
one period of sleep we will be prepared to conclude the 
bargain.” Zarko’s words were carefully spoken in the 
unaccustomed tongue of Yrldrun. 

“It is well,” the thin voice gloated. 

All was silence in the great cavern save for the soft 
rustle and murmur that arose from the restless move- 
ments of thousands of frog folk. Ridge saw that Zarko 
was ill at ease; Kal Turjen was struck dumb v.?ith 
amazement. Not fifty feet away, Rita Simonds stood 
at the edge of the pool of light, eyes bright with won- 
der, her beauty ethereal in the dazzling illumination. 
At her side was the nefarious Jerry. 

The unblinking eyes of Bzor shifted to the awed 
group of men and women who were the unfortunate 
passengers of the Mercurianic. 

“Who are these under guard of your men?” the 
piping voice inquired. 

“Prisoners from the inner planets, oh Bzor,” boomed 
Zarko, “You may do with them as you will.” 

Ridge stiffened. Was the 'Venerian callously sending 
these people to their death? Many were his own 
countrymen. 

“It is well,” came from out the circle of light. And 
it seemed there was evil satisfaction in the yawping 
voice of Bzor. 

Instantly a chorus of gulping yells came up from the 
throats of the frog folk. An ominous sound that 
swelled rapidly to deafening intensity, then trailed off 
on a vibrant, gleeful note. Rhythmically it rose and 
fell. A chant of death. 

A shrill gurgling came up from the depths of the 
pool and weaving fingers of cold light reached forth. 
Terrified shrieks from the group of passengers were 
drowned out by the quickening swells of the chanting. 
And, shading his eyes with his hand. Ridge saw that 
Rete Dovis and his guards were forcing the panicky 
prisoners across the rim of the light pool into the mists 
that enveloped Bzor. 

An aged Terrestrial flung high his palsied hands and 
was sucked down into bubbling, shimmering depths by 
the light-finger which had curled about him. Scream- 



ing hysterically, a young woman fought her way from 
the edge of the pool and thrust her infant child into the 
arms of a guard. Ridge saw the swarthy drylander 
grin as he swung the tiny body aloft and„ whirled it 
over the heads of the frenzied prisoners. A moan of 
anguish came up from the pilot’s throat as the child 
was hurled shrieking into the greedy maw of the danc- 
ing light-mists. 

“Imps of the canals!” Kal Turjen could stand no 
more. With a bellow of fury, he drove across the inter- 
vening space toward the murderous drylander of his 
own planet. 

The spurt of flame from his pistol was a dim yellow 
flare in the blinding whiteness of the pool of Bzor, but 
Ridge saw the guard wilt and shrivel to a cindery 
corpse in its blast. Then Kal was a raging demon in the 
midst of the outer ring of mutineers. 

Yelling encouragement. Ridge dived after him. But 
his arms were pinioned from behind and he was brought 
crashing to the pavement by the huge weight flung upon 
him. The voice of Zarko was in his ears — 

“Lay off, you fool! This Bzor has powers you can't 
resist.” 

But Ridge twisted under the great weight of the 
Venerian and brought up his knees sharply. Zarko 
grunted with pain and the grip of his massive arms 
relaxed. Quick as a flash, the young pilot was 
on his feet. Shouting hoarsely. Stumbling as he ran. 

It was a nightmare of fantastic, impossible happen- 
ings. In the midst of the cold light haze of the pool were 
only the eyes of Bzor. Malevolent now, and watchful. 
Screeching and fighting against the streamers that 
reached forth and drew them into the bubbling liquid 
luminescence, the prisoners were enveloped swiftly. And 
Kal Turjen was a battling madman beset by no less than 
a dozen of the guards. 

Ridge flung himself into the tangle. Flame projec- 
tors useless in a hand-to-hand fight, it was a battle of 
brawn and of karees. A grinning face was there before 
him, and the pilot battered it down with flying fists. 
A smashed and bloody thing. 

“Kal!” he yelled. 

The Martian saw him and lunged joyously forward. 
Together, they would take terrible toll of this rabble 
before the inevitable end came. A karee swung high 
and Kal plunged in under the arm that raised it. Ridge 
saw the swift upthrust of his friend’s bronze shoulder, 
heard the snap of his assailant’s neck. The knife went 
spinning harmlessly off into the mists of light. 

Off guard for an instant. Ridge staggered under the 
impact of a heavy body that drove into him head fore- 
most. He brought up a short arm jab and the head 
came up with a snap. It was Rete Dovis. His karee 
flashed and blood spurted as the pilot caught the thrust 
on his forearm. The pain of it Ridge felt not at all as 
he grappled with the big Venerian. 

Knowing he was no match in brute strength for his 
bulky adversary. Ridge fell back sidewise and relaxed 
his muscles. Dovis yelled in triumph, but it was his 
last yell. In his apparent yielding, the young pilot had 
his assailant off balance. A swift gripping of the 
Venerian’s thick wrist and the knife was turned. The 
sudden tensing of a leg was placed where the leverage of 
Dovis’ own great weight was most effective. The tri- 
umphant cry of Zarko merged into a wheezing sigh as 
he plunged forward heavily. Impaled on his own karee, 
he lay there squirming, dying. 

B ut a sudden paralyzing weakness overcame Ridge 
and he fell to his knees. He was enveloped in 
frigid whiteness for an awful instant. Numb with cold. 
Blinded. Then his vision cleared and he saw that 
hostilities had ceased. The guards had fallen back. 




272 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



and where the pool of light had been was a roaring 
pillar of cold white flame that extended upward to the 
highest reaches of the cavern arch. 

He saw bodies whirling within the dazzling white- 
ness, carried up with the blast. Rigid, icy bodies borne 
aloft by the freezing horror. The passengers, all of 
them, had vanished. And Kal. He, too, was swallowed 
up in this incomprehensible pillar of cold light. Gone ! 

Painfully Ridge crawled toward the foremost of the 
chanting frog men. He %vasn’t at all clear in mind as to 
his reason for doing this. But he must get out of the 
circle of chill radiation. A fierce hatred of Bzor and 
of Zarko welled up within him. 

And then, with a thunderous detonation, the light 
pillar vanished in suddenly darkened and yawning im- 
mensities of space overhead. In the huge cavern was 
only a faint rosy illumination — ghastly silence. 

“Get up!” The voice of Zarko was in his ear, 
strangely awed and vaguely concerned with his welfare. 
“Get up, Coler, you’re safe now.” 

Swift warmth flowed into his being to replace the 
cold. Sudden renewal of full vigor came to his body, 
and Ridge leaped to his feet, growling savagely. 

“Damn you, Zarko!” he yelled, “This is your work. 
You rotten murderer of innocent people!” 

Hardly knowing what he did, he whipped out the 
flame projector and swung it in an arc that included 
Zarko and the entire pirate crew. The throng of frog 
folk, he saw, now stood rigidly erect with bulging eyes 
raised aloft. Worshipping ! This Bzor was their Deity. 
The pool of light, and the dais, and the malevolent God 
of Japetus had vanished. 

Startled by the Earthman’s ferocity, Zarko stood 
swaying uncertainly. Jerry Simonds, Ridge saw, had 
stepped out of the shadows and a flame pistol glinted in 
his hand. But the girl Rita flung herself upon her 
brother and bore him back, 

“Take it easy, old man,” Zarko was saying, “Bzor 
will — ” 

“Yes, Bzor!” Ridge shouted, “Where is the devil?” 
Madness was upon the pilot as his eyes searched the 
roseate dimness for the monster. 

A sickly grin contorted Zarko’s features. His lips 
moved, but no words came forth. 

Then, with crashing abruptness, a stabbing pencil of 
white came from out the dark arches and smote Ridge 
Coler with mighty force. His blood congealed in his 
veins. Numbing, bitter cold pierced him through and 
through. His eyes saw' only gelid emptiness. Crystal 
whiteness swept down over him and he knew no more. 

CHAPTER IV 
Spawn of Past Ages 

C onsciousness returned swiftly and painlessly. 
And memory came with devastating force ere 
Ridge had opened his eyes. He groaned. 
Immediately a chorus of soft chirpings fell on his 
ears and he drew' himself up with a jerk, every sense 
keenly alert on the instant. He had lain prone on a 
crystal slab and now sat on its edge, blinking amazedly 
at his surroundings. 

The lidless optics of Bzor regarded him solemnly 
from close at hand. And fully a score of these creatures 
of the big heads and shriveled bodies were grouped 
about him. Each was cradled in his own cushioned 
basket-like couch, and each bent questioning saucer- 
eyes on the Earthman. 

“Jupiter!” Ridge marveled, “I’m dreaming.” 

“Not dreaming,” piped Bzor, “nor yet in the land 
of the dead. You find yourself before the council of 
JNew Yrldrun, on trial.” 



There was utter lack of expression in the monster’.fl 
bland face, if face it might be called. The thin blood- 
less lips hung loosely parted. Even the great eyes 
seemed to lack lustre. Only the rhythmic throb of huge 
purple veins under the parchment-like scalp gave evi- 
dence of life. 

Ridge’s hand strayed to his pocket and his fingers 
closed on the flame pistol. They had not disarmed 
him. 

“On trial!” he repeated blankly. 

“Even so.” There was no perceptible movement of 
Bzor’s lips as he shrilled the words. But a cold gleam 
came into his unmoving eyes. 

Swift flame darted from Ridge’s weapon as he slipped 
catlike to his feet. With equal swiftness, the weblike 
filaments surrounding Bzor’s inert body glowed emerald 
green. And the flame swept violently upward, expend- 
ing its fearful energy harmlessly on the crystal ceiling. 

By not so much as a flicker did the circle of staring 
eyes betray surprise or anger. Nor did Bzor himself 
display the faintest sign of emotion. Ridge clubbed 
his pistol and lurched forward. But the green glow; 
came instantly. His fingers stiffened and spread wide 
under the strange power of the radiated energy. The 
w'eapon fell clattering to the floor. 

“You win!” he snarled, and subsided. 

These creatures of the massive brains and helpless 
bodies were invulnerable. Invincible. 

“Be seated.” Still the lips of Bzor scarcely moved, 
and still the expressionless orbs were upon him. 

Ridge sat on the crystal slab and drew his knees 
up to his chin, wrapping his arms about them. With a 
start, he saw the long gash, furrowed by the karee of 
Rete Dovis, had completely healed. More of the science 
of these creatures. But, why should they waste theii; 
healing art on him? Ridge puzzled anew. 

“What are you called by your fellows?” Bzor asked. 

The pilot told him in surly tones. 

“And your friend of the coppery skin?” 

Ridge choked back a lump that rose in his throat. 
“Kal Turjen. What of that one — of him?” He was 
exjperiencing some difficulty with the iunaccustomed 
language of his questioner. 

“He will recover.” 

“Recover! He lives?” Untangling his long limbs 
with sudden vigor. Ridge sprang to his feet. 

“He does, oh man called Reej.” 

The young pilot could hardly credit his senses. He 
had been sure that Kal was no longer in the land of 
the living. But now . . . 

“Tell me,” he demanded, “What does all this mean?, 
Why have you brought us here?” 

“Behold!” At the curt reply of Bzor, there was a 
dimming of the rosy illumination and a ten-foot circle 
in one of the crystal walls went utterly and awesomely 
dax'k. 

I T was no ordinary darkness, this sharply outlined 
circle of obscurity, but a complete obliteration of 
light. Utter absence of wave motion of any sort. The 
annihilation of space, time, and matter. It was as if 
Ridge looked through and into a vast cosmic void. 

And then, as his eyes accustomed themselves to the 
strange blackness, misty shapes took form in the area. 
Brilliant light points came to stud the velvet blackness. 
A great heavenly body rushed out of the ebon vast- 
ness. A familiar body, with bright encircling rings — - 
Saturn. With mad speed, they appeared to be hurtling 
toward it. Ridge gripped the edge of the slab on which 
he sat as the eerie sensation persisted. 

The voice of Bzor seemed to reach him from some im- 
measurable distance as he spoke swiftly in explanation ; 
“What you observe, oh Reej, are light images akin to 




WATER-BOUND WORLD 



273 



those of your own optophones. Here, however, you are 
looking not only through space itself but into the past 
as well. We do this by capturing wave motion equiva- 
lents of light and sound long since released but still 
adrift in the immensity of the etheric cosmic. Hun- 
dreds of generations into the past we see and hear — 
now.” 

On his last word there was a swift blurring of the 
view as when a crashing space ship meets its doom. The 
surface of Saturn flung violently upward. When it 
seemed that collision was imminently certain, there 
came an abrupt change. The view stabilized. Station- 
ary and moving objects were clearly revealed. It was as 
if Ridge Coler had been miraculously transported into 
the ancient land of Yrldrun. 

It was but the beginning of the fantastic history of 
Bzor and his kind. And, spellbound, the young pilot 
sat as the strange tale was unfolded to his eyes and 
ears. 

In the dim and distant past of Yrldrun, Bzor and a 
group of his associates discovered the secret of im- 
mortality. Eternal life was theirs, eternal youth. But 
alas, it was only of the mind and not of the body. Those 
imperishable brains lived on and acquired incalculable 
knowledge. But the bodies withered with age. Limbs 
palsied. Normal functions of the body ceased. Within 
the span of their own generation those experimenters 
came to be outcasts. The life they could not lose save 
by violence became a burden. Bitter ; impossible. Many 
of them contrived their own destruction by mechanical 
means. But Bzor and a few of his closest friends lived 
on, searching perpetually for a means of restoring 
youthful vigor to their aging bodies. 

Conditions in Yrldrun became intolerable and they 
decided to set forth to a new world where they might 
start afresh, where, with their scientific attainment 
and unlimited mental capacity, they might work un- 
hampered toward the end they so greatly desired. 
Their own kin had cast them off and sequestered them 
on a tiny island where opportunity was scant. They 
would go to a new land — at once. 

A huge cannon was constructed on their island. A 
great projectile was fitted up with oxygen apparatus and 
hermetically sealed against the vacuum of outer space. 
Vast charges of explosives were placed in the bore of 
the enormous piece of ordnance. And they shot them- 
selves off into space. 

The satellite, Japetus, which they called Reylis, was 
their objective. It seemed, from the astronomical 
knowledge they then possessed, as best suited to their 
purpose. If it proved not to their liking after they 
had landed, they would construct another great cannon 
and proceed elsewhere. All eternity was at their dis- 
posal. 

Their projectile landed unharmed on the surface of 
a great body of water. Bzor’s party was rescued by 
a school of semi-intelligent aquatic mammals and 
brought to land. These were the progenitors of the frog 
men, their evolution much less advanced than at present. 
But they were friendly to the newcomers, and min- 
istered to their wants and needs. In later ages, their 
descendants came to W’orship Bzor and his kind of 
gods. 

The adventui’ers soon leaimed that the volcanic island 
to which they had been carried was the last remaining 
land of the satellite. It, too, was soon to be engulfed 
by the ocean. They decided to leave Reylis. But, 
again, fate was against them. A generation of frog 
men worked out their lives in mining operations but 
could locate no metallic ores other than gold and silver. 
There was no iron in all Reylis, no metal of sufficient 
strength and hardness for the building of a cannon 
from which to fire their projectile. They must remain. 



But they did not remain idle. In anticipation of the 
rising of the waters they used the energies of another 
generation of frog men in constructing the great dam 
surrounding the entrance to the caverns beneath. At 
least they would provide themselves with a refuge. 

Down through the ages their bodies became of less 
and less use to them. But the massive brains worked 
on. The frog men provided their hands and their 
means of locomotion. And they progressed enormously 
in electronic science, hampered only by the lack of 
certain elements. In these hungry, immortal brains 
was ever the hope that physical vigor might be returned 
to their atrophied bodies. Or — that new bodies might 
be supplied. And the latter idea became an obsession. 

They experimented with raw protoplasm and with 
chemical and electrical excitation. In time they de- 
veloped artificial means of reproducing their own kind. 
Their number increased to more than a thousand. And 
still the great brain cases were helpless, immovable 
things with rudimentary and paralyzed bodies. 

Through their control of electronic forces, they were 
enabled to perform marvelous feats of surgery. The 
frog men offered themselves as subjects of experiments. 
A number of them gave their ugly bodies, and actual 
substitutions of Yrld heads for their own were accom- 
plished. But the frog men were creatures of cold 
blood, and the hybrid products of these head-graftings 
came to be idiots. Only the bodily characteristics of 
warm-blooded animals were suitable to the needs of 
the.se remarkable brains. Only humans could be used. 

Then came the first vessel from outer space to be 
wrecked in the heaving waters of the satellite. One of 
those vessels before the days of Vorn Jare, Ridge 
thought grimly. One reported as lost. And it was 
indeed lost. So were its occupants, for the frog men 
caught them and carried them to Bzor. Decapitated, 
the warm, still living bodies were grafted to two mon- 
strous Ylrd heads. Successfully. The two hybrids 
would still be alive had they not, in their exuberance, 
attempted to wrest away the power of Bzor. It had 
been necessary to destroy them with the electronic 
energies of the cold light. 

Ridge had seen and heard quite enough. “Stop it!” 
he roared, “Stop it, you devils!” 

T he time-space television went blank and the 
crystal-walled room once more flooded with rosy 
light. Bzor and his council were a ghastly circle of 
motionless, expressionless monstrosities. All evil, coldly 
scientific brain and calculating eyes. No semblance 
of human compassion was in them. 

Ridge was trembling with horror and rage. And 
afraid. No man living would have been unafraid in 
the face of the awful thought that filled his mind. 
Death only is not so terrifying, but to think of one’s 
body living on as an unwilling accessory to the evil 
deeds that must result from the unholy alliance with 
one of those vicious minds was appalling. 

“Your intention,” he quavered, “is to do the same 
with my friend and me? With those others — the pas- 
sengers of our vessel?” 

“Be not so hasty, oh Reej,” piped Bzor, “Only a few 
are chosen for the honor of providing us with bodies. 
And you and your friend are not among these, since 
your blood counts are not suitable.” 

“What then?” Emboldened though he was by the 
knowledge. Ridge quailed inwardly at realization that 
the test had been made. 

“You and this man Kaal are to assist us in the work 
that is to come.” 

“Oh.” The pilot grinned with swift elation. So that 
was it. Their services were in demand. First Zarko, 
now Bzor. As long as there was life there was hope. 




274 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



“Even so. We have bargained with this Zarko for 
the large ethership in order that our plans may be 
carried out most expediently. He will leave with his 
smaller vessels when the treasure is delivered and we 
shall make good use of the commodious one.” 

Ridge frowned perplexidly. “Wait a minute,” he ob- 
jected, “Do I understand you’ll keep this bargain with 
Zarko?” 

“Bzor never has broken his word. When this pirate 
of space first reached us with his tiny ships was the 
bargain made, and it shall be kept to the letter. We 
needed a much larger vessel, since we must obtain 
many humans from the inner planets for our experi- 
ments. With our energies of the cold light will we 
capture them, and, in the course of time, we shall be 
provided with a sufficient number of strong young 
bodies.” 

Ridge stared with growing horror. “And I?” 

“You are to aid us in operating the vessel during the 
raids of Earth and Mars. We do not fancy the ponder- 
ous and slow-moving bulk of the Venerians, so will 
confine ourselves to those two planets.” 

The young pilot pondered this in gloomy silence. A 
way might yet be found, but they’d have to move with 
extreme caution, he and Kal. It was more than their 
own escape . . . they must contrive between them to 
make this horrible thing impossible. . . . 

Suddenly he thought of Rita Simonds, and an awful 
fear gripped him. What if these monsters repented 
of the immunity they had granted to all of Zarko’s 
crew? Kal and himself they had singled out as enemies 
of Zarko on account of the fighting ... If Jerry Simonds 
started anything, they might well do the same with 
him . . . and with the girl. 

A thin voice called out in muffled tones, seemingly 
from the crystal wall at his back. Startled, Ridge 
whirled on his heel. 

As frost melts away under the rays of the morning 
sun, the wall of crystal dissolved into nothingness. And 
one of the basket containers, with its inert Yrld freight, 
drifted into the room, supported a few feet from the 
floor by a rolling ball of emerald green energies which 
were fed from the glowing web surrounding the thing’s 
withered body. 

A swift interchange of words between the newcomer 
and Bzor. So swift that Ridge was unable to catch 
the meaning. 

But he gathered that something of moment had 
occurred, or was about to occur. 

Bzor raised his own gem-crusted basket with the 
green repulsion rays and snapped forth his orders. The 
crystal room was cleared of the other occupants as if 
by magic. And then Kal Turjen, unscathed but with 
solemn mien, strode forward from the shadows beyond 
the wall that had vanished. 

“Ridge!” he exclaimed, his black eyes lighting. 

“Kal!” 

They gripped hands — mightily. 

“We go to the vaults,” Bzor was saying, "Come.” 

But the two men gave him no heed in the moment 
of reunion. 

“Come.” 

This time the voice was crisply insistent. But more 
insistent still was the flashing green energy that ac- 
companied the command. 

Rigid in every joint, the two men walked forward 
stiffly after the fashion of automatons. 

Robots, they became, utterly subservient to the will 
of Bzor as imposed through the medium of the green 
rays. 

Marching to whatever awaited at the end of the dim 
passage into which their unwilling feet carried them, 
completely at the mercy of the green energy. 



CHAPTER V 
Revolt 

T hey came out into one of the rose-lit caverns 
where many of the frog men and a number of 
basket-cradled Yrlds were assembled. The radia- 
tion of Bzor’s green energy subsided. Once more the 
Earthman and his Mai'tian friend were able to control 
their own movements. 

“Got a cigaret?” Kal whispered in English, "I’m out.” 
Ridge grinned as he produced his own case. “That 
your biggest worry?” he chuckled. 

“It’s a help to have ’em.” Kal Turjen inhaled luxur- 
iously and his squinting gaze sobered. “They give you 
the dope. Ridge?” 

“I guess so. You mean the — the surgery?” 

“Yes. Imps of the canals! — I saw them.” Kal shud- 
dered. “The passengers ... all carved up.” 

“All!” Ridge’s exclamation was horror-filled. 
“Every last one. They have to try about ten before 
they find one that suits.” 

“Jupiter!” The young pilot conjured up a swift 
mental picture of the ten thousand victims there would 
be if Bzor . . • 

A sudden tingling in his joints warned Ridge of the 
watchfulness of Bzor. He turned to look into the evil 
eyes. 

“They come,” the thin lips chirped. “You will remain 
by my side during the consummation of the bargain. 
After that we proceed to the large ethership.” 

Ridge raised his eyes to the squinting black ones of 
his friend. They were almost closed in the curling 
smoke wisp from his cigaret — expressionless as those 
of their captor. Kal, too, was thinking that the time 
was close at hand. Minds groping for a possible solu- 
tion of their difficulties, they regarded one another 
solemnly. 

A twittering murmur came up from the frog men 
as Zarko and his motley crew straggled in. The big 
Venerian walked slowly forward and halted before the 
jeweled basket of Bzor. 

He avoided Ridge’s eyes studiously. And mortal fear 
was in the wavering gaze he cast on the master mind 
of the water-bound world. 

“You have not examined the big vessel, oh Bzor,” 
he offered. 

“I have not. But my frog men have attended to the 
matter of refueling. And I will not now require your 
offices in the way of giving instruction to my engineers 
as to the operation of the internal mechanisms, since 
these two at my side have volunteered their services.” 
“I — I see,” Zarko faltered, “But the bargain stands?” 
“It does, most certainly.” 

Bzor raised his cracked voice in the queer gutturals 
of the frog men and there was instant activity among 
them. 

Ridge Coler growled in his throat, then cursed Zarko 
softly in his own tongue. The Venerian had done this. 
How else had Bzor known of his and Kal’s abilities? 

The frog men were carrying heavy chests from crypts 
in the wall of the cavern. Huge boxes of hammered 
silver with hinges and bands of gold. Corroded and 
slime-covered from the dampness of ages. Five of these 
were set before their master and the bearers threw back 
the lids and v/ithdrew to the ranks of their fellows. 

Ridge gasped when he saw the contents of the nearest 
chests. The ransom of empires was here; the wealth 
of a dozen worlds! Cut and uncut gems of fabulous 
values when measured by the standards of the inner 
planets. Glittering rubies and huge emeralds. Black 
diamonds and diamonds of the purest blue-white. And 
crude ornaments of rusty unlovely iron. Iron. < Iron ! 




WATER.BOUND WORLD 



275 



Zarko and his men crowded close, clustering around 
the chests. Shoving and jostling one another as greedy 
hands reached forth. Eyes glittering with cupidity. 

'Bzor’s voice cut in sharply. “The bargain, oh Zarko, 
was to the extent of all that might be carried on the 
persons of yourself and two of your trusted lieu- 
tenants.” 

Here in the bowels of the water-bound world these 
riches were of no account. But, later, when the evil 
minds of the Yrlds had been provided with healthy 
human bodies, other worlds would be opened to them. 
With this wealth they might purchase allegiance. Eifect 
the overthrow of civilizations. They had planned cai'e- 
fully through the ages. 

Then Ridge saw Rita Simonds and his heart stopped 
beating for a breath-taking moment. She was pressing 
forward with her brother and her great violet eyes 
looked out at Ridge with piteous appeal. There was no 
mistaking the directness of her gaze. The frank avowal 
of desperate need — and of trust in the man to whom she 
was appealing. 

The young pilot looked around at Bzor; saw the 
faint green glow of his webbed body covering. The 
warning tingle of the radiant energy stabbed at his 
joints. 

Zarko and Jerry Simonds were on their knees at the 
chests, with one of the husky drylanders assisting them. 
Ridge saw the Venerian lay hands on a huge diamond 
and thrust it into his leather bag. Two thousand 
carats, at least. In itself, an enormous fortune. 

Simonds was snarling in Zarko’s ear. Ridge caught 
swift ugly words of Sol-ido. “Fool ! Only listen to me 
and we’ll grab it all. It’s easy, I tell you.” 

“Shut up!” Zarko hissed in reply, “We’re lucky as it 
is. We—” 

The rest of it was lost in the soft pleading of another 
voice that was very near. Rita Simonds. There at his 
side! Ridge went cold with fear for her. But a glance 
at Bzor assured him that the interest of his captor was 
engrossed in the bickering avarice displayed there at 
the chests. Lucky Bzor had not learned Sol-ido. 

“You must help me. Ridge Coler,” the soft voice was 
begging, “My brother — he’s all I have. I must save 
him fi'om himself. Don’t you see? He’s out of his ele- 
ment with these pirates, crazy with greed. He’ll get 
himself killed if he persists. Or life imprisonment if 
he does get away and home. Oh, I just can’t — ” 

Her voice broke on a sob. 

Just like a woman. Ridge thought grimly. No thought 
of her own desperate straits; only of that scapegrace 
brother of hers. 

“Easy now. Miss Rita,” he whispered, “We’re all in a 
bad box, but if there’s the slightest chance I’ll do it. 
Get back there with the others — please.” 

Her eyes and the pressure of the soft warm hand 
rewarded him. 

Kal Turjen looked over and dropped a meaning eye- 
lid. Ridge felt the hot blood mount to his temples. 
Devils take the Martian ! — he’d have his chaffing in the 
very jaws of death. 

Jerry Simonds drew himself suddenly erect, flinging 
his heavily loaded pack into the waiting arms of two 
terrestrials of the crew who had come up behind him. 

“Ready, men!” he shouted. 

And instant darkness came in the wake of a muffled 
explosion high overhead. The wily Jerry had tossed 
aloft an air-screen bomb, one of those atom-disrupting 
missiles that block off a layer of air into an utterly 
opaque screen. In the resulting blackness there was 
wild pandemonium. 

Rita Simond’s despairing cry rang out. “Jerry! 
Ridge !” 

The young pilot sucked in his breath sharply. That 



final call for his support struck deep into his soul. 

“With you, old timer!” Kal’s hot breath was on his 
cheek. 

A flame projector spat fire and a frog man was a 
glowing torch in the blackness. For a brief instant only 
was the scene lighted, but in that instant Ridge Coler 
glimpsed a gold-crowned head — flung back; eyes star- 
ing. And the slim body of Rita Simonds bent double 
in the clutching arms of a squat drylander. 

The gulping shouts of the frog men made the dark- 
ness hideous. But there was no sound from Bzor and 
the rest of his weird tribe. 

Ridge plunged into the blackness in the general direc- 
tion of that flash he had had of Rita. Bellowing, reck- 
less of consequences, Kal was beside him, clinging 
desperately to his shoulder. Momentarily, he antici- 
pated the gripping energy of the green rays. 

Bzor had other plans for the immediate future. 

A second stabbing flame lighted the gloom. Ridge 
drove a hard fist into a drylander’s face. He felt the 
crunching of bones under his knuckles. Swiftly explor- 
ing fingers located the fellfiw’s flame projector. Once 
more Ridge was armed. But he had not reached Rita. 

And then a dazzling pillar of cold light rose suddenly, 
snuffing out with a violent concussion as it contacted 
with the air-screen above. With it vanished Bzor and 
the other creatures of the baskets. And the shouts of 
the frog men merged into a wailing chant. 

The screen was losing its effectiveness. Dimly the 
rosy light shone through. And, in the dimness, shadowy 
figures were struggling— Zarko and Jerry Simonds, 
tearing at each other’s throats. Much as he loathed 
Simonds, Ridge flung himself on the Venerian. It was 
Rita’s wish. He’d do what he could. But Zarko’s head 
rolled weakly on his shoulder as the pilot closed with 
him. The hilt of a karee projected from his breast, 
and Simonds slipped out from under the slumping body. 

“Coler!” the Venerian gasped, “He’s got me. Listen 
— it’s iron that protects — steel — ” 

And with those cryptic words Zarko Nad gasped his 
last. 

T he frog men were streaming out into a side pas- 
sage when Jerry Simonds flung aloft the second 
bomb. Before utter darkness swept down once more. 
Ridge hurled himself at the drylander who was holding 
the girl. Valiantly, she was pounding the brute’s face 
with her fists. With the fury of a tigress she struggled 
— in vain. 

“Here, I’ll take her,” Ridge grunted, in the tongue 
of the Martian drylands. 

“Who’re you?” the fellow panted. He was having his 
troubles with his charge. 

“Vanos.” 

Vanos had been the one who went down under the 
pilot’s first charge, whose flame pistol he now clung to 
so tenaciously. 

“All right. But don’t let her bother the boss.” 

The boss ! Obviously Simonds had w'on them all over 
from Zarko’s leadership. 

Ridge pressed his lips to the girl’s hair. “It’s Ridge 
Coler,” he whispered, “Lean on me, now^ — there.” 
Weakly she slumped into his arms. “Jerry,” she 
moaned. 

“He’s all right,” Ridge answered gruffly, “Zarko’s 
dead.” 

“Oh,” — a sigh of relief. 

The young pilot fought down the sense of elation 
that came to him with the holding of that precious 
body so close to his own. It would not do to give way 
to his emotions now. He moved steadily toward one of 
the passages he had located in his mind during the brief 
interval of half-light. 




276 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



The bedlam in the cavern was subsiding as the frog 
men fled the scene, and the barked orders of Jerry 
Simonds came to their ears. The pirate crew was en- 
gaged in transferring the entire contents of the chests 
to their bags. 

“Here’s the passage,” Kal’s voice spoke from out of 
the darkness. 

Ridge had known he was there, though he had given 
no indication of his presence for several minutes. 

The girl was on her feet by the time they came out 
into the dim rose glow of the passageway. She looked 
fearfully up into the grim face of the pilot. 

“You’re sure about Zarko?” she asked. 

“Positive. He died at my feet.” Evidently the girl’s 
oiib’' fear for her brother’s life had originated in the 
bad feeling between himself and the Venerian. And 
Ridge was not one to rouse new fears by speaking of 
the menace of Bzor. 

The passage turned abruptly and they came out into 
a chamber whose walls and roof were of clear trans- 
parent crystal. The ocean was all around them, lighted 
to a shimmering green by phosphorescence of a great 
cliff wall that towered beside the crystal tube. 

“See there,” Kal exclaimed, pointing, “The frog men 
are leaving the interior.” 

It was true. The hinged door of an airlock in the 
wall of the cliff was open and great numbers of the frog 
folk were swimming out into the green-lit depths. 

“Wonder what that means,” Ridge muttered. He was 
thinking of the reason Bzor might have for getting them 
temporarily out of the way. 

“Why,” the gii’l at his side enthused, “They’re am- 
phibians. They live as well under water as in air. 
Harmless creatures, too — rather likable.” 

“True.” The young pilot looked down into the shin- 
ing violet eyes and his conscience smote him. There 
was little likelihood that any of them would come out of 
this place alive. And the thought of her fresh loveli- 
ness snuffed out of existence. . . . 

“Ridge ! The main cavern.” Kal’s exclamation broke 
in on his thoughts. 

They came through the crystal blue tube up on a 
railed balcony that led through a forest of stalactites. 
And below them was the rose-lit floor of the great 
cavern in which they had first seen Bzor. It was 
deserted of life. And, somehow, there was definite 
menace in the very fact of its emptiness. 

The feeling communicated itself to the girl. “Ridge,” 
she said nervously, “Do you think he’ll come through 
safely? Jerry, I mean.” 

Impatiently Ridge answered her, and could have bit- 
ten off his tongue when the words had left his mouth. 
“He’s done pretty well for himself so far.” 

“Oh !” The violet eyes were tragic — wounded. 

“I mean,” — hastily, “He seems to have things very 
well thought out and — oh — is pretty well able to take 
care of himself. I — if I were you — I wouldn’t worry 
too much about him. Now, at least. It’s time you did 
some worrying about yourself — 1 mean — ” 

He was floundering deeper and deeper when a flash 
of cold white light struck down from amongst the 
stalactites. It came almost as a welcome interruption. 

Bzor had struck his first blow in retaliation. 

Two of Jerry Simonds’ men staggered out from one 
of the lower passages carrying heavy packs on their 
shoulders. The light shaft bathed them in cold weav- 
ing luminescence for an instant and was gone, snapping 
up into the vaulted reaches with a thunderous roar. 
And with it vanished the two bearers of the treasure. 

No wonder Bzor had cleared the caverns. It was to 
be a war of extermination against the faithless bar- 
gainers — from his laboratory overhead. And all must 
pass this way, to reach the outside. 



Rita Simonds swayed on her feet, a moan of com- 
prehension escaping her whitened lips. Ridge Coler 
caught her in gentle arms as she fell. 

The strain of the long battle in behalf of her worth- 
less brother had been too much. . . . 

CHAPTER VI 

Destruction 

W ITH the unconscious girl draped over his right 
arm and the flame projector clutched tightly in 
his free left hand. Ridge searched the maze 
of icicle-like formation overhead. He knew that Bzor’s 
laboratory was up there — where the cold light origin- 
ated. But there was no opening to be seen, nor was 
there a sound to indicate the presence of any living 
being within earshot. 

“Must be the energy strikes down through the solid 
rock,” Kal grunted. 

“Um-yes. But you can bet they see what’s going on 
down below.” 

“Think they see us?” 

“Why not? They’re saving us for their dirty work, 
that’s all. And maybe we’ll fool ’em.” 

"Huh!” Kal’s snort was dubious. 

But Ridge Coler had an inspiration. “Jerry — Jerry 
Simonds!” he called out. His voice echoed hollowly ip 
the huge cavern. 

Rita Simonds stirred in his arm and he tightened it 
convulsively about the slender w'aist. 

“Listening, Coler,” came the cautious i-erJy in Sol-ido. 
“Got any more of those air-screen bombs?” Ridge 
held his breath in expectation of a blast of energy from 
above. 

There was no reply to this, and the young pilot’s 
spirits sank. Bzor’s energies must have gotten to 
Jerry somehow in the side passage in which he was 
hiding. 

But no — he saw the swift arc of a pellet flung high 
from a low arch in the far wall of the cavern. Simul- 
taneously there came the swift stabbing shaft of white 
from above. But no figure was there in the arch when 
it splashed its dazzling spray of freezing death. And 
the black opacity cut across the cavern as the cold flame 
receded with its characteristic detonation. 

There were triumphant shoutings then under the 
screen and frantic blasts of the cold light from above, 
striking through, but blindly. The din of the repeated 
concussions was terrific. 

“Come on, Kal!” Ridge, with his precious burden, 
sprinted for the transparent lift-shaft at the end of 
their gallery. It led down to the main floor of the 
cavern. 

Though they were above the opaque screen, they 
went unmolested. Ridge had counted on this. Bzor 
and his companions were too busily engaged in their 
efforts to pierce the screen and destroy the outlaws to 
pay them any heed up here. They reached the lift safely 
and flung themselves into the car. 

Before they shot down into the darkness. Ridge stole 
a look at the girl in his arms. Long, dewy lashes flut- 
tered on the pale cheeks. She’d be out of it in a moment. 
Impulsively, he pressed his lips to those softer ones so 
provocatively near. 

And then they were slipping through the blackness 
of midnight. The fragrant lips responded to his pres- 
sure. Soft arms crept up around his neck. They clung 
together there in the darkness, these two, oblivious of 
all else. Were the universe to crash about them in 
the next instant, they would still have had this mad 
moment of ecstasy. Resistless, the force which had 
drawn them together, even had they wisl^ed to resist 




WATER-BOUND WORLD 277 



The lift halted and they stumbled out into the flame- 
shot darkness of the cavern. When the cold light 
stabbed through it was with but a fraction of its usual 
brilliance. But Kidge saw a group of running men 
lapped up and vanish in its maw as it splashed amongst 
them. The hit-and-miss methods of Bzor were produc- 
tive of some results at least. 

"I’m all right now,” Rita panted. 

Ridge loosed his encircling arm, but she clung fast 
to his hand. At the next light flash they directed their 
steps toward the shaft of the main lift that led to the 
outer air. Kal Turjen ran on ahead of Ridge and the 
girl. 

“Jerry!” Rita Simonds called out excitedly. 

It was utterly and awesomely dark once more. 
“Where?” Ridge asked her. 

“Over there — at the lift. I saw him!” 

In another moment they, too, would reach the spot. 
But all could not enter that tiny car. 

Another flash of the cold light splashed almost at 
their feet and Ridge frantically drew the girl back 
from the frosty blast. By its light they saw Jerry 
and a half dozen of his men fighting to get inside the 
car. 

“Jerry!” the girl called again in the sudden dark 
that followed the flash. 

Ridge maintained a grim silence. Little Jerry 
Simonds cared that this self-sacrificing sister of his 
was in danger! 

There was another flash, a fainter one, over at the 
lift. For a vivid instant a human torch glowed. Jerry 
had shot down one of his men, a Terrestrial, who was 
crowding him at the door of the lift. Rita moaned. 

“The lift’s dead!” Jerry was shouting then, “They’ve 
cut off the power. Take to the spiral runway, men.” 

The screen of darkness was lightening and a second 
bomb burst in the air above. Blankness once more, 
thick and stifling. The flares of cold light were scarcely 
visible as they shot through the screen, but the thunder 
of their recall was deafening. 

Gasping, stumbling men were all about them. Ridge 
drew the girl close as he pushed toward the runway 
shaft. He’d never let her go now. 

"Kal!” he called out. 

There was no reply, but, in the next weak flash of 
light. Ridge saw that the Martian had fallen back and 
was keeping close to Jerry Simonds. Suspicious of 
him, Kal was, and he wanted to be on hand in case of 
a treacherous move. 

Ridge was in the lead, with the girl, when they came 
up into the rosy light of the runway shaft. The thun- 
dering in the cavern ceased. Utter silence reigned, save 
for the panting of the men who struggled behind them 
under their heavy loads of loot. 

AT the outer arch they halted and the others caught 
JLV up with them. With maniacal, bloodshot eyes, 
Jerry Simonds surveyed his sister and the young pilot. 
It was as if he did not know them — not even the girl. 

“Jerry,” she pleaded, “You’ll not—” 

“Don’t bother me,” he growled, “I’ve got the stuff 
now — all of it — and I’ll get through with it. It’s mine, 
you hear, mine.” 

His voice rose on the last words and foam was at his 
lips. Jerry Simonds was stark staring mad. 

“I’d drop it,” Ridge said mildly, “You’ll never make 
it with that load.” He was thinking of the reception 
that must await them outside. 

“Think I’m crazy, do you?” Jerry Simonds cackled, 
"No, I tell you I’m getting through with it. Right 
now!” 

Lunging wildly under his burden he lurched through 
into the great pit that surrounded the volcanic cone. 



Sobbing softly, Rita stumbled after him. 

A wave of intense heat smote them like the breath 
of a furnace as they plunged through the arch. And 
a sluggish river of sparkling molten metal stopped Jerry 
Simonds in his tracks. 

“God!” he shrieked, reeling backward, “The ether- 
ships! They’ve destroyed them.” 

Ridge had reached the girl’s side in a single bound 
and she leaned weakly toward him as her brother 
shoved her roughly aside. Jerry Simonds was a man 
bereft of his senses. Yet he clung desperately to that 
loaded pack that was slung over his shoulder. 

The two small ships wei*e incandescent molten masses. 
Mere blobs of liquid metal that spread slowly as they 
sank, sending forth tiny sputtering rivulets to wander 
aimlessly over the floor of the mile-deep well within 
the great circular dam. 

Behind them the surviving members of the crew 
streamed forth, backs bent under their precious loads. 
Screaming curses. 

“We’ll take it, men,” Jerry was babbling, “Take the 
big ship. It’s fueled and ready. Let’s go.” 

Ridge pressed close behind him, trying to shield the 
girl with his own body. He had seen moving figures 
up there on the landing stage beside the main airlock 
of the Mercurianic. Frog men. Probably the ship was 
filled with Yrlds as well. 

Kal Turjen yelled, and flame spat from his projector, 
searing the edge of the staging and bringing a fright- 
ful screech from a monstrous head which had appeared. 

And then the green rays sped forth into the ranks 
of the outlaws. The platform was swarming with the 
basket-cradled Yrlds! 

Jerry Simonds was pushing forward, shouting, his 
body aglow with the green energy and legs moving 
jerkily. His flame projector was spouting a steady 
stream. Some of the men threw down their packs and 
fought desperately against the paralyzing energy to 
reach the stairs. A karee was flung whistling and 
Ridge saw it drive deep into one of those bulbous heads. 

The Yrlds were not invincible! Across his mind 
flashed the last words of Zarko — “It’s iron that protects 
— steel.” That was it — in their development of offen- 
sive and defensive weapons, the Yrlds had failed to take 
into account the properties of the metal so scarce in the 
mines of Japetus. They were vulnerable to weapons of 
iron and steel. 

“Use your knives, men!” he yelled. 

“Knives be damned!” Simonds screeched. “Flame — 
flame and bare hands. We’ll get ’eni!” 

He staggered as he fought against the energy. The 
soft metal of the staging was dripping white molten 
streams. Many of the men were down. Ridge saw one 
of them shrivel like a trussed-up turkey and his body 
cover over with a glassy metallic green film. Those 
paralyzing rays meant death if prolonged. The pilot 
reached for the man’s karee and thrust it in his own 
belt. 

They were close by the great curving hull of the 
Mercurianic now, at the foot of the stairs. Still Jerry 
Simonds struggled upward. A glassy sheen was show- 
ing in the green glow that surrounded his body. And 
still he battled onward. Still he clung to the pack. 
Despite himself. Ridge thrilled to the fellow’s courage. 

And then he saw that Rita was no longer able to keep 
to her feet. Aglow in a dozen points with faint tufts 
of green, she slumped to her knees. Hardly able to 
move a muscle himself, he dragged her under the shelter 
of the great vessel’s hull. 

He saw Kal go down in a haze of green. His own 
eyes were dimming and he drew his body painfully to 
the girl’s ... at least they might be together . . . close 
... in that last moment. ... 




278 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



AND then his groping fingers contacted with the 
lx. steel hull of the Mercurianic. There was a bril- 
liant flash of green. Eelease from the energy! Like 
closing a magnetic circuit, it was, or grounding a light- 
ning flash. Free! Ii'on — steel — the rare metal of 

Japetus protects. 

A sudden whirlwind of energy, he moved Rita and 
brought her arm in contact with the hull plates. She 
sat erect. Then, bellowing forth the astounding knowl- 
edge of the protection afforded by the steel hull, he 
rushed out and clawed at Kal’s still body. Gripped 
anew by the rays, he heaved mightily with stiff joints. 
An inch only, at first — rtwo, three inches — feet — and 
they were alongside the hull. Both were on their feet 
at the first contact with the welded plates. 

“Jerry!” Rita sobbed, “He’s down.” 

He was — a shriveled, green-glazed corpse there on 
the stairs. 

“Keep her here, Kal,” Ridge growled, diving for the 
stairs. 

He saw that all of the outlaws were down. Corpses 
all; green cinders beside their packs of loot. Poor, 
greedy devils! A leering Yrld face was thrust toward 
him and he drove the karee home. 

He saw an iron bar from the ship’s stores, leaning 
against the white metal rail of the stage. Struggling 
desperately against new energy blasts, he clutched 
it with cramped fingers. Swung it crashing amongst 
the basket-cradled heads there on the stage as the 
touch of the cold iron i-enewed his strength. The rest 
was a nightmare. Bloodlust was upon him and he 
cleared the landing stage of the leering beasts of the 
ancient brains without pausing for breath until the 
thing was done. 

Kal was coming up the stairs with Rita, dragging her 
gently past the hideous thing that had been her brother. 
Others of the Yrlds, hundreds of them, were drifting 
across from the archway toward them. 

Ridge flung his iron bar down amongst them and 
reached trembling arms for the girl. The glorious 
golden head was buried on his shoulder. 

They were in the airlock then, and Kal was bolting 
the outer seal. A few frightened, goggled-eyed frog 
men backed away as they went in through the passage 
to the navigating cabin. No Yrlds were within. 

“Can we run this ship alone?” Ridge asked the 
Martian when he had led the white-lipped, staring girl 
to the captain’s leather couch. 

“Alone?” Kal Turjen chuckled. “I’ll lay a bet I’ve 
got a crew of fifty frog men down below. And I can 
make ’em work as well as Bzor can. Watch me! Be- 
sides, they’ll be useful in backing up our story when 
we return the ship to her owners.” 

On the last word he was gone. 

Ridge looked over at Rita Simonds. She had turned 
her head to the wall and was lying there rigid, silent. 
Alone with her grief. 

He tiptoed to the control panel. Looking down 
through the floor ports, he could see the drifting baskets 
of the Yrlds moving aimlessly about on the pit bottom, 
Bzor was there, great saucer eyes staring up malevo- 
lently. Iron that protects — steel. Ridge repeated softly 



the words of Zarko. The murderous Venerian had 
saved them, after all. 

Then came the purring of the gravity-flux genera- 
tors, a smoothly rising note that sounded as a har- 
binger of Kal’s success. 

The optophone shrilled its call and the Martian’s 
squinting eyes looked out from the disc through the 
smoke of a cigaret that dangled at a precarious angle 
from his lower lip. His supply of these renewed, he 
was as comfortably at home as if nothing had happened. 

“What did I tell you?” he gloated, “These froggies 
are okay.” He held up a wriggling, staring specimen 
for inspection. The frog man blinked in friendly 
fashion. Harmless, but useful creatures. 

Ridge laughed, and more than ever appreciated his 
friend’s infectious good cheer. “Great work!” he sang 
out. “Step lively now — we’re off!” The disc went blank 
as the pilot dived to the controls. 

With the anti-gravity energy lifting them, they 
drifted up out of the huge pit. In the ages past, the 
frog men had built that great circular wall to hold back 
the dark waters from the retreat of their masters. 
Without the cofferdam the Yreds would perish miserably. 

Inspiration came to the young pilot as they hovered 
at the rim. He saw the tiny white spots there by the 
cone, drifting aimlessly. Bzor, he knew, still ruled„„:.-a 
ghastly menace to civilization. If he and the rest of 
his ilk lived on, there was no assurance. . . . Ridge 
pressed suddenly on the keel rocket control keys. 

Ordinarily, when leaving an inhabited body, the 
mighty energy of the rocket blasts must be withheld 
until many miles from the surface. For this reason the 
etherships are supplied with the slower gravity-flux. 
But here the destructive effect might be useful. It was. 

The ship flung violently upward with the thunderous 
roar that came. And, before the cloud layer closed in 
around her. Ridge saw the huge wall of masonry col- 
lapse. Slowly, but eagerly: whipped white by the tre- 
mendous commotion, the seas closed in over all. 

Hopes of countless ages forever gone. The mar- 
velous but warped intellects lost in the heaving waters. 
The menace to the inner planets removed by that single 
blast. But the frog folk, who could live either in water 
or out, remained. They would be vastly more content. 

A little later, when the water-bound satellite was but 
a slender gleaming crescent against the star-studded 
void, Rita Simonds walked to the pilot’s side. Stead- 
fastly, Ridge kept his eyes to his instruments. 

For a long time the golden head was bowed at the 
viewing port. 

“It’s better so, I guess,” she whispered, after a time, 
“I loved him. Ridge. My whole life was spent in fret- 
ting over him — looking after him. And now — ” 

“Now it’s time you had someone to look after you.” 
Ridge looked down into the tear-bright violet eyes, 

“I — I suppose so, Ridge. I know so.” 

The shining head nestled in the hollow of his arm 
when she slipped into the seat at his side. And, to- 
gether, they looked resolutely away from the gleaming 
crescent as the steering rockets purred and the great 
ship swung around and headed toward the great ringed 
orb of Saturn. 



Thk End 




279 



Invaders from the Infinite 

By John W. Campbell Ir. 

{Continued from page 229) 



“Have you eaten? Then let us eat, and after supper 
we’ll tell you what little there is to tell.” 

“But Arcot,” said Morey slowly, “I understand that 
Dad will be here soon, so let us wait. And I have some- 
thing of which I have not spoken to you as yet. V/orked 
it out and made it on the back trip. Installed in the 
Thought with the Banderlog’s controls. It is — well, will 
you look ? — Fuller ! Come see the new toy you designers 
are going to have to work on !” 

They had all been depressed by the thought of their 
long absence, by the scenes of destruction they had wit- 
nessed so recently. They were beginning to feel better. 

“Watch,” Morey’s thoughts concentrated. The 
Thought outside had been left on locked controls, but 
the apparatus Morey had installed responded to his 
thoughts from this distance. 

Before them in the room appeared a cube that was 



obviously copper. It stayed there but a moment, gleam- 
ing brightly, then there was a snapping of energies 
about them — and it dropped to the floor, a fifty-pound 
lump of copper. It dropped to the floor but — it rang 
v;itfi the impact ! Artificial matter is always soundless, 
for its atoms are fixed, and cannot vibrate in sound. 
Only natural matter can make sound. 

“It was not created from the air,” said Morey simply. 

“And now,” said Arcot, looking at it, “Man can do 
what never before was possible. From the nothingness 
of Space he can make anything. 

“Man alone in this space is Creator and Destroyer. 

“It is a high place. 

“May he henceforth live up to it.” 

And he looked out toward the mighty star-lit hull 
that had destroyed a solar system — and could create 
another. 



The End. 



The Ant with a Human Soul 

By Bob Olsen 

{Continued from page 263) 



“That’s 0. K. with me, Kenneth dear.” 

After I had placed my signature on the dotted line 
of her sweet lips, Alice asked me a very significant 
question : 

“What was the most important lesson you learned 
from your life among the ants?” 

“It was the lesson of Religion, darling,” I answered 
her. 

“Religion?” she exclaimed. “Do you mean to tell 
me that ants have a religion?” 

“They certainly have — and it’s a very good religion, 
too. If mankind can ever be persuaded to unite and 
to adopt a universal religion, they couldn’t find a bet- 



ter one than what I call Myrmacism, or Ant Religion. 
Its creed is one that ought to be accepted readily by 
people of every faith — Mohammedans or Buddhists, 
Jews or Christians, Protestants or Catholics. The key- 
note of this religion is simplicity itself. It is summed 
up in a single phrase, which may be used as a norm 
for guiding the conduct of any person under any cir- 
cumstances.” 

“And what is that wonderful phrase?” asked Alice, 
her face beaming with eager expectation. 

To which I replied: “Do whatsoever will bring the 
greatest amount of happiness to the largest number 
of people!” 



The End 



Antipodal 

Aspiring wings beat idly ’gainst the bars 

That hold in thrall — our feeble flutt’ring vain 
To match the stress, to snap the prison strain 

That else denies our consort with the stars; 

Where Luna lures or redly beckons Mars, 

Amoebic motes that glint in cosmic train. 

We chafe to scale the heights but ne’er attain 

Beyond the sphere we tread as avatars. 

Yet we are vast when we are viewed by that 
In orbits where the ultimate proton swings. 

Evolved alike from some unfathomed force; 

God-like, inspiring awe, or marveled at 

As grovel serfs before the thrones of Kings; 

Thro’ Time’s abyss all run their destined course. 



. By Clio Harper. 




%, y£oh 

By E. D. 



that 



Johnson 




QlMALL, apparently insignificant occurrences are often fraught with dire de- 
kj struction or tremendous danger, but the man who foresees impending trouble 
is called a pessimistic fool, and must therefore do what he can to aid and fortify 
a situation as secretly as possible. Although secrecy is often helpful — sometimes 
it does delay an effective solution — as it did in this story. You will like this 
thrilling tale by Mr. Johnson, an author new to our columns. 



Illustrated by MOREY 






^HE Hole continues to grow,” said Pritchard 
quietly. 

The simple words sent a shiver down my 
spine and for a moment the 500-miles-an-hour 
speed of the express rocket plane through the 
stratosphere seemed all too slow. Then I reminded my- 
self that in the scant four hours it would take us to 
fly from Chicago to San Francisco that ominous menace 
which we called simply “The Hole” could make little 
progress in its grim self-destruction. 

The chief spoke again, bringing my mind back to our 
task. He was as unflurried as though engaged in the 
most routine laboratory experiment — and had been, ever 
since that tense moment, only a few hours before, when 
in our private laboratory, high above the towers of 
New York, he answered the television call from the 
Head Scientist of the State Boai-d of Scientific Eesearch 
of California. 

“Here, Gray,” he took from his billfold a little pile of 
clippings, “are the newspaper reports of poor Beale’s 
experience. Glance over these quickly, if you will, while 
I make sure that our stuff there is in order.” 

The plane normally accommodated twelve people but 
we were the only passengers. Even so there was none 
too much room for the equipment we had hurled into 
it after receiving that terrible cry for help. I picked 
up the clippings abstractedly, but my eyes turned to- 
ward the chief, rapidly checking over our supplies. 
Bulky as they seemed in the speeding plane, they were 
insignificant enough in view of the terrific problem 
they, and we, were called upon to solve. 

Beside a leather covered steel case in which were our 
gamma quartz lenses and ray condensers stood a box 
containing almost a half gram of radium. Behind that 
was a portable trunk-file, a moving analytical labora- 
tory, with opening shelves and compartments which 
disclosed beakers, tubes, alembics, quantities of stan- 
dard chemicals. And, of course, the case upon case of 
records and notes, results of our long months’ work 
on the single vital problem of the release of atomic 
energy. 

The words brought me back with a start and I picked 
up the clippings, glancing through them hastily for 
details I might have missed. 

“I blame myself very much,” Pritchard spoke as I 
took up the clippings, “for not having read the papers 



more carefully the past few weeks. If we’d seen even 
that first one — either of us — we’d have guessed — ” 

It told of a lunatic — so the scareheads called him — a 
mad scientist of San Remy, an obscure little California 
town, who had declared the end of the world approach- 
ing — or rather, in moi'e scientific terms, had stated that 
disintegration of matter had started at his laboratory 
and could not be stopped. To a scientist — and one who 
knew the truth — the flippant journalese account jarred 
horribly. The man was expertly ridiculed in every line 
of a supposedly serious account. He had applied first 
to the County Board of Science and since the head of 
that body, unlike most such appointees, held his post 
as a political plum, had been roughly treated and sent 
about his business. In growing despair, he had applied 
to the editor of a politically opposed paper, which sent a 
reporter to see the Hole — a curious, smooth-edged break 
in the upper part of the laboratory outside the town — 
a phenomenon which the ignorant reporter put down to 
some explosive or chemical action. 

Clipping after clipping told the gruesome story. The 
man’s reason had almost cracked from worry ... he 
had been briefly confined, by well-meaning citizens, but 
fortunately not legally committed ... he had broken 
away, tramped miles to San Francisco and somehow — 
desperate, unkempt, dishevelled — forced his way to the 
office of the State Board of Science and interviewed 
its chief. 

And that very night — after a hurried flight to San 
Remy, and an inspection of the growing Hole, the lab- 
oratory and the scientist’s notes of the experiments 
which had led to the terrible result — had come that 
televisionic call to Pritchard, the one man in America, 
if not in the world, whose knowledge and skill might 
yet avert wholesale disaster. Neither Pritchard nor I 
would soon forget the drawn, anxious face of that fine, 
white-haired old scientist as he appeared at the tele- 
visor and begged us to pack everything v/e had which 
dealt with atomic energy experiments, and come at once. 

“And the Hole,” repeated Pritchard, is still growing.” 

“It doesn’t say so here,” I pointed to the last clipping, 
still subtly jocose and unbelieving. 

“It won’t.” When the chief’s jaw set like that I 
knew he meant business. “I called Constable” — the San 
Francisco Chief Scientist — “back while you were ar- 
ranging for the plane. He’s agreed to seem to dismiss 



280 





“This is the end. Goodbye, Gray. . . . Letter in desk — hotel — good — I' 








282 



AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



the matter — he’s already sent Beale back under escort. 
We’re to 'arrive as friends of his — Beale’s — get our stuff 
out there sub rosa, and work without attracting any 
more attention than we can help. How long we can 
keep it up, I don’t know — but it’s a ticklish business. 
Gray” (I smiled at the under-statement) “and the 
longer we can keep it to ourselves, the less chance for 
panic. Now — everything’s in order, I think. Let’s 
just run over these notes on the lambda ray — ” 

A t San Francisco a local speed plane waited, engine 
L roaring, and Constable, meeting us strictly incog, 
arranged to have our apparatus and files trucked to the 
country laboratory under cover of darkness that night. 
Landing at the little municipal San Eemy field, we 
seemed two ordinary travelers and easily chartered a car 
to take us out to Beale’s laboratory. 

We reached there about ten, or rather, came as near 
it as a police cordon, drawn loosely around the outer 
edge of the grounds, would permit. Paying off our 
driver — who lost no time in hastily turning around 
over the stubbly field and speeding back to town — we 
stood a moment looking at the “two story building of 
natural stone” described in the newspapers. Although 
it stood at a little distance, on a rise of land, our eyes 
instantly caught the Hole — from where we stood, a 
missing upper segment, silhouetted against the sky. 

But no jagged edges were outlined there, as with 
crumbling ruins or war-torn walls. The striking pecu- 
liarity of the edges instantly caught my eye. No phys- 
icist familiar with explosives would ever describe that 
hole as produced by one. Nor, I thought, would any 
intelligent man who had seen the jagged edges left 
after the passage of a projectile suppose for a moment 
that the Hole had such a cause. From where we stood, 
we could see that every edge of the solid stone was 
rounded as if it had been filed. 

Pritchard and I stared silently, appalled by all that 
meant. Finally he said, "Gray, I want you to give me 
your word that under no circumstances will you go 
near or into that hole, or touch any part of the building 
near it.” 

“Agreed,” I answered readily, knowing he had good 
reason for his caution. Later I was to realize the fore- 
sight which inspired the warning. 

“We must find Beale,” he said and we started for the 
building, meeting no objection until we approached the 
front door. Then a voice startled us. 

“Here, you!” The officer detailed to guard the build- 
ing appeared from a clump of bushes. "Where you go- 
in’? Keep back there! No one’s allowed up them 
steps.” 

“We want to see the man who lives here,” said Pritch- 
ard. “We read about him in the paper and I think 
I know him.” 

“Yeah?” said the officer sceptically. “Well, my orders 
are not to let anyone go any further or talk to that 
man. And you’re not goin’ to do it, see?” 

“But, officer,” said Pritchard, “we are friends of 
Dr. Beale’s.” 

“Well, maybe — ” 

Just then the door of the laboratory was thrown open 
and in the doorway stood a man whose very appear- 
ance was a shock. No wonder he had been thought a 
madman! Disheveled, wild-eyed, his hair entirely 
white, he looked an old man and a demented one, where- 
as we knew Beale to be forty-two or three, and one 
of the finest brains the country had ever produced. 

“Pritchard!” he exclaimed, “And Gray too! Thank 
God you’ve come ! It’s all right, officer. Come in, won’t 
you? Yes, officer — don’t stop them! For God’s sake, 
hurry, Pritchard. Tell him — ” 

It took a little persuasion, but soon we were seated 



around the table in the comfortable living room. Beale’s 
apartment occupied the ground floor, the laboratories all 
being upstairs. It was curious to note the lounging 
chairs, the soft rugs and delightful furnishings — and 
yet all the time to be conscious of that menacing Hole 
closely, insidiously growing, eating away solid stone 
. . . upstairs, over our very heads. 

“Why didn’t you come sooner?” demanded Beale. 

"Why didn’t you send for us?” countered Pritchard. 
Evidently he and this man had long known of their 
mutual interest in the problem of atomic energy. 

Beale smiled bitterly. 

“Did anyone ever think you crazy? If so, you’d know 
how impossible it is to get anything done. I did file a 
dispatch, but I guess the telegraph operator ‘humored’ 
me — and then never sent the wire I addressed to you 
long ago. I thought perhaps . . . you were working 
on the same thing, and I got there first — ” 

Pritchard frowned and exclaimed, “Beale ! You know 
better than that!” But with a quick gesture he checked 
my indignant defense of him against the undeserved 
suggestion of jealousy. 

Beale smiled again wearily. 

“Yes. Now I see you, I know better. But perhaps 
what they thought is true, to some extent. I have been 
half-crazy. Pritchard, this thing has got me. How in 
God’s name am I to stop what I have started? You — 
of course, you’ve guessed . . .” his voice broke. The 
man was evidently on the verge of a breakdown. 

“You’ve released atomic energy,” answered Pritchard 
evenly, and I noticed that the calm statement of this 
incredible fact seemed, strangely, to soothe the man. 
“There’s no use pretending that stopping its action is 
going to be easy. I confess I don’t see how to do it — 
yet. But you’ll be glad to hear that Gray and I have 
just finished a series of experiments on lambda rays 
which gave us our first clue as to how to unlock atomic 
energy. You have progressed further. Suppose we get 
your notes, and we’ll see if, together, we can work 
something out. That’s what we came for.” 

“Lambda rays?” Suddenly Beale was the scientist 
again — cool, alert, poised. 'The calm reception of his 
news and the counter-suggestion of a method he had not 
found, restored him to balance like a challenge. “My 
experiments have been along lines of low frequency 
ether vibrations, in conjunction with extreme heat. I’ll 
get my notes.” 

As he hurried from the room, Pritchard’s eyes met 
mine. 

“It’s better than I feared — and worse,” he remarked 
quietly. Beale can help — will help. His mind is saved 
— we’ll have to spare him without his knowing it — but 
that is something I had hardly hoped for. . . . 

“The hole, though — ” and into his quiet voice crept 
the note of intense seriousness, “That is — worse. Cal- 
culate for yourself, Gray. That first report was dated 
only — ” 

He caught himself up. Hurrying footsteps announced 
Beale’s return and as he came in, flushed, disheveled 
still in appearance, but coherent and controlled, we 
knew that indeed the scientific spirit had asserted itself 
again over human nature and terror. 

1 SHALL not describe in detail the marvelous series 
of experiments Beale had made. Suffice it to say 
that an exceptional mind had charted the course and 
rare technical skill was shown in every experiment. To 
understand the difficulties of the task which confronted 
us, it is necessary for the reader to understand a little 
of the process that led up to the terrible situation in 
which we found ourselves. 

As the reader doubtless knows, all matter is composed 
of atoms — those infinitesimal particles which build up 




THE HOLE THAT GREW 



283 



a visible mass of lead, iron, silver or whatever the ele- 
ment may be. Until the discovery in 1898 of radium, 
it was supposed that atoms were the smallest particles 
existing in our portion of the universe. Any layman 
can imagine the interest — ^the excitement — with which 
the scientific world received the following discoveries: 

1. Radium is an element which emits three types 
of rays (called alpha, beta and gamma to distin- 
guish them), and gives these off continuously and 
without stimulation. 

2. The beta rays consist of a stream of nega- 
tively charged particles, emitted with a velocity 
which is almost as great as that of light. 

There were further discoveries which do not concern 
this present discussion. The important point is that 
what was supposed to be the smallest particle of matter 
was proved not to be the smallest. 

We need not trace the marvelous series of experi- 
ments and the equally difficult and abstruse reasoning 
which led scientists to the inescapable conclusion that 
atoms are in turn composed of electrons and protons. 
Anyone who wishes to follow the details of these steps 
would do well to consult Irving Langmuir’s articles in 
the Journal of the American Chemical Society, 1921. 

To summarize, each atom is composed of one (or 
more) positively charged particle, called a proton, which 
has revolving around it at incredible velocity several 
negatively charged particles called electrons — the dif- 
ference between any two elements is caused by the dif- 
ference in the number of electrons and protons to the 
atom. In other words, each atom of silver — or hydro- 
gen — or copper, or helium or carbon — is an infinitely 
small reflection of our solar system. Millions and 
countless millions of atoms are needed to make up a 
dime. And each of these countless million atoms con- 
tains a vast energy. 

When in 1975 it became obvious that the coal supply 
would soon be exhausted, the necessity for unlocking 
this vast store of sub-atomic energy became evident. 
The task has been a difficult one. Atoms have resisted, 
during the formation of our world, heat and pressure 
beyond our power to produce, and doubtless vast elec- 
trical energies have been brought to bear upon them. 

The reader can readily see how the scientist who 
found the first key to this knotty problem would win 
unquestioning support or jealous antagonism from his 
fellow workers, 

Beale, then, had managed to release the electrons and 
protons within the atoms without being able to harness 
them. These were rushing off into space, each disin- 
tegrating atom affecting its neighbor. Thus the de- 
struction proceeded as waves grow from a pebble drop- 
ped into the water. Where a part of the building had 
been thei'e was now nothing — and this disintegration 
was continuing in wider circles each day. Beale had 
been powexdess to stop it — and while the actual exist- 
ence of the world hung in the balance, we discovered 
that we, too, had no knowledge that would arrest this 
horror. 

That day — ^the next — the next — Pritchard, Beale and 
I worked at the problem until sleep overcame us where 
we sat, and woke to return to work again. Our equip- 
ment had arrived; we lived, ate and slept with our 
agonizing problem. Luckily the corner of the building 
which was slowly disintegrating did not cover Beale’s 
delicate and valuable apparatus. This was in another 
room, but, of course, that too in time would go. 

A week of intensive work went by. The hole was 
larger by a foot in every direction. By the end of 
another week, the rate seemed to have increased — 
each morning a change in size was noticeable. 

Then came panic. We three had been so occupied 
with our tremendous problem that we had forgotten 



the outside world. Our first hint came when we saw 
a small crowd, quiet, yet somehow ominous, standing 
outside, gazing at the hole. I spoke to the officer who 
was still on duty outside, 

“Well, Dr. Gray,” he answered, his manner now very 
respectful, “I can’t make them go away. Truth is 
they’re most of them scairt half crazy. Can’t say I 
blame ’em much. That there hole is sure queer. It 
gives me the creeps.” 

“Have you a morning paper?” I asked. 

“Sure,” he answei-ed, taking a copy of the Tele-Tab- 
loid from his hip pocket. “I’ll bring you one every day, 
if you’d like. It’s a bad business, and no mistake.” 

When I glanced at the screaming headlines, I knew 
that he spoke the truth. The alarm had been spread 
broadcast — all over the country, people were reading 
with a start of fear or a smile of tolerant amusement, 
“The World Is Disintegrating”; “San Remy Maniac 
Right” ; or any one of half a dozen scareheads. 

Now we, fighting in our lonely laboratory on that 
California hillside, were definitely affected by this 
mob hysteria. Our work was rendered more difficult 
by the crowds who came to see the laboratory and the 
rapidly growing hole. A morbid curiosity seemed to 
drive them — and after a day or two it was necessary 
for the local authorities to wire for the militia to insure 
the quiet and privacy we needed. Our telephone had 
long since been disconnected. Our supplies were smug- 
gled in at night — and had to be searched for notes, 
religious outbursts, even infernal machines from the 
unbalanced who blamed us for the terror. 

And still the hole grew. Grew daily faster — grew at 
the alarming rate of six inches in twenty-four hours. 
The entire end of the building had gone and the hole 
reached the ground. The day that was discovered a low 
murmur of horror rose from the watchers. It was the 
fii'st visible demonstration that the earth itself was 
surely, irrevocably going. That shallow trough seemed 
more deadly a portent, somehow, than the dissolution 
of the whole side of the building. We were racing 
against time indeed. 

O NE clear, still morning a week later, when in our 
little corner of the doomed world we were en- 
grossed in a long and delicate experiment, a great com- 
motion outside the building interrupted us. The militia 
were evidently having some trouble, and Pritchard, who 
had an uncanny faculty for dealing with difficult people, 
hurried out to see if he could help. 

The crowd was pressing close as crowds will when 
curious. In the front line a tall, thin woman was 
struggling with the guards, who had great trouble to 
hold her. As Pritchard emerged from the laboratory 
she broke from them and rushed over to the hole. 

Pritchard shouted to her, but she ignored him, dodged 
a guard who lunged after her, and hurried on. The 
crowd surged forward. Holding them back, guarding 
the many, the soldiers were unable to follow this one 
headstrong woman. Pritchard started forward — ^to- 
ward the hole he had forbidden us to approach — but the 
woman was too far away from him. In a moment she 
had reached it, that terrible yawning hole. We who 
were standing at the laboratory windows watched with 
a shock of horror. 

Into that awful trench she stepped and picked up a 
double handful of earth. Pritchard stopped — no point 
now in risking his own life 1 I think that then only he, 
Beale and myself understood the dreadful doom which 
this unfortunate woman brought on herself. There 
was no immediate visible harm. But — we knew that a 
flatiron, thrown into that hole by way of experiment, 
had completely disintegrated in three days! W? knew 
that even at that moment the atoms comprising the 




284 AMAZING STORIES QUARTERLY 



outer layer of skin on her hands were breaking up, 
and that they would then affect the next layer of atoms, 
and so on. She was doomed, doomed! But the gaunt 
woman stood there laughing in triumph, and oh, the 
pitiful irony of that laugh! 

“Look, Margery !” she called. “Look? There’s noth- 
ing to be afraid of! I told you this was all a fake.” 

A woman in the front rank of the crowd burst into 
happy sobs. 

“Oh, Agnes — thank God, you’re all right! It is a 
fake! Come back, my dear, come back!” And the first 
woman turned calmly to rejoin the other. 

Then Pritchard did the bravest thing I ever saw 
done — and I was present at the Manila earthquake 
and the New York flood, where many men showed that 
bravery was not the prerogative of our ancestors. Beale 
and I cried out in protest as we saw him start toward 
that fatal spot, but he ignored us as the woman had 
ignored him. As he went he pulled on a pair of castage 
gloves he had been wearing in the laboratory to protect 
his hands from the dangerous lambda rays. To the 
edge of the Hole he stepped and began to talk to the 
woman, who, after a first start of horror, stood white 
but calm, listening. What he said we never knew, as he 
was too far away for us to hear and would not speak of 
it afterwards. 

At this point I found trouble on my own hands. 
Beale, who had been watching, trembling and tense, 
suddenly broke down completely and turned away, sob- 
bing like a woman. I turned to support and calm him 
and so saw nothing for the next two or three moments. 
By the time Beale pulled himself together and we again 
looked from the window, Pritchard and the woman were 
still standing by the hole. But she was carefully dusting 
off her hands and I could see that in some way he had 
carried conviction to her. Even at that distance we 
began to perceive her strength of character and courage. 
There was now nothing in the least hysterical about 
her — nor indeed had her manner been anything but 
collected all along. Her impulsive, excited struggle 
with the police and her fateful dash into the hole were 
caused, we discovered later, by a mistaken but solicitous 
attempt to convince a nervous sister that her fears were 
ungrounded. 

Evidently directed by Pritchard, the woman (all the 
world now knows her name as Agnes Staunton) stepped 
out of the hole and took three long steps away. He 
walked beside her. Then both stopped and Miss Staun- 
ton stepped out of her shoes. Pritchard stooped and 
removed his, throwing both pairs into the hole. Then 
he carefully stripped off his castage gloves and tossed 
them in too. Meanwhile Miss Staunton had been stand- 
ing perfectly still, with her hands held away from her. 
she watched Pritchard curiously but with an air of 
resignation, 

“My God,” whispered Beale, “do you realize that any- 
thing her hands touch will begin to break up? How 
are we going to manage this problem? We can’t let 
her get away — yet we are lost if we go too near her!” 

As they walked toward the laboratory, Pritchard 
called to me. 

“Gray! Drop down another pair of gloves, will you?” 

Quickly I got them and threw them to him. Miss 
Staunton took them by the cuffs, being careful not to 
touch Pritchard’s hands. She pulled them on with a 
look of such utter despair as I hope never to see again 
on a human face. But she said nothing, and the pair 
came into the laboratory. 

. “Beale,” said Prichard, “I don’t need to tell you and 
Gray what Miss Staunton is facing. She has consented 
to confine herself in that small room downstairs.” 

And so it was arranged. Miss Staunton lived her 
brief time in that little corner room, never leaving it 



and subsisting entirely on the readily prepared foods 
we used. 

At first the progress of her trouble was slow. It 
had been so with the preliminary destruction of the 
upper floor of the laboratory. Each day she changed 
her gloves, lest the old pair should tear and she would 
spread this horrible — I almost said, contagion. It seemed, 
indeed, like some ghastly leprous infection. I can never 
tell the sick pity and horror I felt when I saw at the 
end of a week that her fingers were gone to the first 
point and a portion of the flesh of the palms had dis- 
appeared. But my pity wa.s matched with admiration, 
for not a groan or a complaint e.scaped her. Much of 
the time there was no pain — physical, that is. What 
her thoughts must have been, we only could guess. But 
when the end of a sensory nerve was attacked then the 
suffering was excruciating. 

Hard as we had worked before, this experience seemed 
to call out some deeper strength in us all. Our endur- 
ance was incredible — day after day, Beale, Pritchard 
and I worked feverishly, almost wordlessly, hardly 
stopping for food or sleep. The long, tedious experi- 
ments seemed interminable — we could not afford to 
make a mistake and have to repeat any of them. Al- 
ways before us we had the dwindling structure, the 
horrible example of that dying woman. Outside, the 
constant mutter of the crowd v/as changing and fanned 
a sinister undercurrent to our work. 

About a week after Miss Staunton’s fearful experi- 
ence, we were working with intense concentration on 
the last of a series of experiments w’hen the evening 
papers were slipped under the door. The news was 
startling indeed. Riots had occurred in many cities — 
riots of pure panic, caused by definite confirmation of 
the rumored news of Miss Staunton’s fate. Some dar- 
ing reporter, slipping up to a window’, had seen her 
painfully manipulating her breakfast dishes with those 
crippled hands, and his description carried conviction 
as nothing else had. To bolster his story, pictures were 
shown of the laboratory “before and after,” and need- 
less to say, they caught the empty, disintegrating side 
from the view most calculated to enlarge and exagger- 
ate it. 

Added to that was the statement of a German scien- 
tist, based on abstruse, but, we had to admit, accurate 
calculations, which showed that the rate of disintegra- 
tion would increase by geometric proportion and gave 
in cold figures the length of time it would be before 
the county, state and continent were wiped out and the 
rest of the world would follow. 

_ We realized that now the truth was generally be- 
lieved. People faced, in their own time, the end of 
the world. The effect was profound, but one which any 
good psychologist would have predicted, 

E VERYWRERE, in all classes, there was a lavish ex- 
penditure of money. Savings banks were emptied 
— ^luxuries sold faster than they could be made, for 
workers stopped and took to spending, too. What good 
would money be after a little while? Religious revivals 
were widespread and the most fanatic sects drew the 
largest attendance. But there were only local outbursts 
of remorse or fear. The worst result of the suspense 
in which people dwelt was the loosening of the moral 
fibre. Crimes of violence, drunkenness and immorality 
became usual among all classes. Why not? Tomorrow 
^or next week — ^they said, we die. 

In Philadelphia, drunken orgies were reported and 
a large portion of the city was in flames. The tele- 
photos showed a veritable holocaust. Most disquiet- 
ing of all was the news that a sort of Coxey’s Army had 
started from Los Angeles to see the hole and to-“throw 
the scientists into it.” We could not have a crowd of 




THE HOLE THAT GREW 285 



people touching that danger spot and rushing away 
to spread the contagion ! We could never hope to save 
our world — and how dear it seemed now! — if that ter- 
rible disintegration were spread broadcast